Communication is a cornerstone of daily living. Some kinds of communication resolve conflict and contribute to understanding, while others damage relationships, create difficulties, and cause pain.
My psychotherapy, couples counseling, family therapy and Mental Performance Training clients all, more often than not, benefit from working on communication skills. Mastering effective communication skills and having constructive ways of communicating have implications for our jobs, relationships, how our needs are met, and our satisfaction in life.
Many people, struggle with communication in listening, delivery, or both. Sometimes these challenges are simply from a lack of skilled communication development, and other times there are emotional activations that amplify the difficulties in communication. To be most effective in communication, our delivery needs to be honest, assertive, respectful, and direct.
It is fairly well-known that people can struggle most to communicate with those closest to them. People may do well in professional environments while they seem to lose their skills with their spouse or family member. This is generally due to underlying activation that can high-jack even the most intelligent person’s abilities.
The foundational communication guide I follow is that each person in the interaction has something valuable to contribute. The other guideline is that each person’s needs, feelings, preferences, wishes, opinions, and values are important. Giving them their proper due does not require us to agree or fully understand them.
Finally, communication based on trust and goodwill is generally more effective and satisfying. Trust-based communication requires being open, honest, and vulnerable with each other. Having a base of trust in communication is crucial in primary relationships.
Conflict resolution and repair are also very important in relationship communication. Developing communication skills in these areas is crucial to sustaining long-term satisfaction in committed relationships, friendships, and cohesive work relationships. The lack of resolving a conflict or insufficient repair of a conflict, can damage goodwill and trust, which leads to resentment, apathy, or continued communication breakdown.