This is the 1st part of the information I will post regarding communication counselling. Communication seems to be the main reason couples attend counselling. The main issue I hear is ‘we can’t communicate’.
Couples often want to rekindle their love, that spark they initially felt after meeting, when life was wonderful, joyous and exciting. As time proceeds and life takes over, demands creep in, and we think we know this person so very well, issues ignite. Close and connected relationships can become challenging with responses to each other often becoming short, sharp and harsh. It may even become somewhat parental when one or each of the partners use lines such as ‘I told you that you needed to do that yet you didn’t’ or ‘why don’t you ever listen to me’. These are the statements that can make the person shut down.
Why does this Communication issue happen?
As humans, we continue to evolve as we age and mature. At age 30 you are no longer the same person you were at 20 years or 10 years old. Therefore, after we meet, get to know each other, so very well, we expect to stay the same. We don’t. Each of us continues to evolve. We live more experiences, hear more stories, live more life, speak with more people. All this adds evolution to our mind, desires, goals and wants.
This, however, is where many couples miss out. They miss this evolution process and become somewhat disengaged with their partner. Comments such as ‘I don’t even know you anymore’ are often correct. If you have been together for 10 years, you are now both different. While saying this, our core values, morals and ethics usually remain the same, it is all the other thoughts, dreams and behaviours that can change.
It is essential we stay in touch, but how?
Many of our conversations focus around money, sex and appreciation. When we start up these discussions, we often seem to go in on the attack meaning the other person goes into defence and conflict erupts. This, of course, prevents any communication from taking place as each person retreats to their corner ready to come out swinging again with words to defend their honour.
Communication can only occur when there is a safe, non-judgemental environment to speak within. The idea of communication is that, to communicate. Therefore, the person wanting to talk or discuss has the responsibility to approach the matter in a calm, contained manner, without attack, as this will only send the other person into retreat so they can protect themselves. I am sure this is sounding familiar.
We all want to be able to speak peacefully, to be heard and understood, this is communication. When one person feels attacked, free-flowing conversation ceases. This does not mean the other person can’t communicate, it is because they may feel continually attacked, everything they say is wrong, so they just don’t bother any more. This is harmful to every relationship.
You do not have to be right.
Discussions are not to prove who is right or wrong, no winning or losing, as this only results in a loss for both. A discussion or conversation referred to as communication, is to convey a message about a topic or issue to enable the other person to understand what it is we are saying and feeling. There is no point to prove, no power to control, only information to be exchanged.
It is also the responsibility of the person speaking to ensure the person receiving understands what it is they are attempting to convey.
How can you be sure the other person understands your communication?
Both people are involved in a conversation. Therefore, not only the person speaking needs to ensure they are understood, the person receiving the message must ask appropriate clarification questions. This is necessary to ensure they do in fact understand what the other person is saying.
Be Curious – these are the words I say a lot. Often what we think we hear is not what is being conveyed by the other person, we believe it is, yet often it is not. Ask, be curious, clarify, as this can prevent an error in hearing. Paraphrase back the words you think the other person said with the meaning you believe you heard. Sometimes this is when clarification is needed just to make sure what you think your heard and the way you think it was meant, was, in fact, accurate, or not.
There are reasons we think we hear something the other person is saying. It is because we place our own meaning on it. This is due to our gender, age, life experiences, and the way we have been raised. So many variables which I won’t cover here now.
The purpose is not agreement, but understanding which is sometimes is all that is needed to remove the caustic verve from an issue. It is not about needing to prove a point, it is about ensuring the other person understands you.
In the next section, I will post the Points to follow to ensure you can have those conversations with calm clarity and understanding.
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