Despite the obvious point that we probably speak the same language as our family and friends, communication disorders are often the root of relationship problems. Even though we feel we are using the right words, it is frustrating when our loved ones misunderstand what we mean. Equally exasperating is when they don’t seem to express themselves properly. Tears and heartbreak often accompany poor communication in a relationship. Sadly, this can go on for years. Communication disorders are usually the result of one or all of the following.
Failure to listen
When we only hear words and fail to truly listen, we are not really communicating. Words are only clues to what the other person is trying to say. The tone of their voice, body language, and even their eyes tell the whole story. Impatience is the enemy of listening. The other person may be struggling to put their thoughts and feelings into words. Interrupting or trying to finish their sentences skews their meaning and may even discourage them from following through on their complete thought. Real listening is incredibly active. Parroting someone’s words back to them is not an indication of listening. Despite your ability to multitask, texting while listening is only marginally possible.
Failure to speak
When we don’t make an effort to put our thoughts and feelings into words, our loved ones may have no clue what we want. The silent treatment is only a wise move when you can’t think of the right thing to say, however, using it as a weapon is hurtful, and will not help your relationship. Keeping your feelings to yourself is a lonely way to live. Obviously, some people are more talkative than others, however in a close relationship opening up to each other is an important part of intimacy.
Failure to feel
People feel that they have truly communicated with another person when there is an emotional response to their words. When people fail to properly respond emotionally to an observation or plea of a loved one, they are sending a message that they don’t care. An intimate conversation is rarely about an exchange of words and most often about sharing emotions. Usually the accusation, “You don’t listen to me,” is all about the lack of an emotional response rather than a failure to hear.
Failure to respond
When someone asks a sincere question, they hope to receive an equally sincere response. Similarly, they expect a response to a casual comment or compliment. When people fail to appropriately respond to what you are saying it is difficult to tell if they aren’t listening or just don’t care. Sometimes the proper response isn’t verbal. It may be a hug or an arm around the shoulder is the only proper response. Learning to respond properly lets those you love know that you are listening and that you do care.
Communication is important in any relationship. When you listen, speak, feel, and appropriately respond you are communicating your love and affection that goes beyond words. Failure in any of these four areas is indicative of a communication problem.