We are often told that good communication is key to a thriving relationship of any kind, be it in our families, with our friends, relatives, business partners, acquaintances, and in all other social interactions. But what does it mean to communicate? Will I always see the good results if I communicate? So then, how do I communicate effectively?
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Communication and Misunderstanding
When I was little, communication meant just saying what was on my mind. I think children are oftentimes better at that than the rest of us adults. They’re less afraid and don’t really have any deception in them. As I grew up I found that many times I didn’t say what I really thought. That happened, for example, when I was too shy, or I guess too nice, to refuse something. I gave people the false impression that I enjoyed whatever they were presenting me, and then left them wondering how I could suddenly back out. It was many years until I learned how to properly speak my mind. I believe that making your feelings know right at the start will save you from dealing with an even greater awkwardness in the future
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Another thing that used to happen to me often was an ongoing string of misunderstandings in a conversation, and that usually occurred with family members. Upon looking back on events like these, I found out I was expecting a certain reaction from the other person, and acting upon that as-of-yet unrealized expectation, eventually conveying a slightly different version of what I felt. Those would quickly escalate to a quarrel. What has helped me was taking a breath and saying the things as if they were committed to paper: neutral, yet detailed. And to be sincere, with myself in the first place, and then with others.
Ask For It
A teacher once said to my classmates and I that many people would save themselves a lot of heartache if they would simply ask for what they wanted. I thought a lot about what that has to do with communication, wondering if it could apply to more complex circumstances than going to the marketplace and asking for a pound of cherries.
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Sometimes we let things go, other times we fight back. I believe there’s a time for everything. Nonetheless, letting go too many times can bring stress and unhappiness if you don’t actually break free. It all goes back to simple things: if a person’s actions are bothering me, and it still bothers me “after” I let go, then I should better talk about it. Things left unsaid will build up, and it will be increasingly harder to speak up as time goes by, perhaps almost impossible. Little things add up. I try not to let them become a huge pile that will drown a relationship.