Sitting down to write this post is a reminder that good communication in a relationship is an absolute essential.
The problem for most of us is that the simple word ‘communication’ covers such broad territory.
At its simplest, communication is about choosing words which the listener will understand. Even at this level, we can still get into trouble. I often work with couples where the listener doesn’t understand exactly what their partner is saying – even in the therapy room.
The next level of challenge in communication is to do with the way we process and give information. Personality Type (Are You My Type), has a lot to do with this, since it determines how are brains prefer to interpret and give messages. Some people, because of their Type, prefer straightforward, factual communication. Others prefer communication which recognises feelings, more than facts. Of course, it is more complex than this, but this gives a flavour of the differences.
The third, perhaps the most important and challenging, is how we are triggered emotionally when we feel under attack or criticised. Most of these triggers are set early in life and can keep tripping us up throughout our life.
So, how do we deal with these complex issues of communication?
A major part of the answer is to keep a consistently open and receptive ear (and mind and heart!), to what our partner is saying. With practice, we can monitor our reactions, learn from them, and develop new ways to listen and to speak. We can learn to manage our reactive feelings and understand how our Psychological Type differs from our partner and how we can make allowances for these differences.
Whenever I write, I’m reminded of how important it is to think of the reader (or listener), when communicating!