I’ve heard from many couples and individuals that they know they need to communicate better as they’ve been told by counsellors and psychotherapists. Communicating better is such a common advise given to just about anyone that, I believe, we have lost the meaning of what communication actually is.
What is communication? Is it merely words or is there so much more to it? What are different types of communication? Is more always better? How do we communicate effectively and what does effective communication even mean? Can better communication save a relationship?
Let’s get into this multilayered topic.
I believe communication truly is crucial for our relationships. The better the communication, the fewer the misunderstanding between us, and therefore the closer we tend to feel. Yet communication is not merely a bunch of words put together and spoken out loud to another person.
For me to communicate properly, I need to have at least some degree of self-awareness. And if I want to tell the other how I feel and I don’t know how I actually feel, I need to have the courage to say just that: “I don’t know how I feel right now.”
Communication means I’m going to reveal information about myself. Communication is an inherently vulnerable act since we’re risking getting hurt, not being heard, being dismissed, etc. by the person with whom we’re trying to connect.
Connection is actually what we’re seeking. Is connection mere communication? I’ve had many exchanges with people in my life as attempts to connect and have failed. The communication was there, yet the connection could simply not be established.
In my opinion and experience, connection requires both parties to be willing to be vulnerable. In other words, they need to be willing to allow the other person in by being honest about what they’re doing and feeling. It takes two to tango.
Emotional connection can be established with very few words.
I’ve felt the most connected with those I love in moments where body language, tone of voice, facial expressions, and a few words said so much more than what a whole book could say.
Connection requires presence. When we’re paying attention (instead of doing time in the prison of our heads) we pick up so much more than we can imagine. It is not the amount of what is being said but the depth and quality of what and how we communicate.
Next time you wish to connect with a loved one, practise this: Feel your body. Feel your feet on the floor. Pay attention to how you’re feeling and where. Be willing to communicate as transparently as possible. To say “I feel angry right now” sure beats hours of passive aggression in the hopes of getting someone’s attention (or with the intention of getting revenge!).
Be aware of your intentions before you communicate. Ask yourself, “What am I wishing to accomplish through what I’d like to share?” Be clear about your intentions and always go for emotional connection first, the details of what you’re wanting to communicate can come later.
Emotional connection is the key to good communication. Use it.