Communication in Relationships

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Personally, I feel it’s near impossible to have a healthy, rewarding relationship with no. Sure, the degree of required communication is dependent upon your degree of familiarity with the person you’re communicating with. However, can open communication be destructive, even if the communicator believes they are giving a useful message for the receiver? Consider what you are going to communicate, and then attempt to predict how your receiver will react. Is the message volatile or sensitive enough to ruin the relationship you currently have? In that case, it’s ideal to think twice. Sounds easy enough, right?

Take this story, for instance. I know a girl that, for her entire life, carried bitterness about how her father raised her. Her dad was a”hard-liner”. All of us know the type. She pointed out many of the shortcomings in her life and how she believed that he was the cause of these because she”did not get what she wanted from him”. She pointed out these things in a very polite manner; clearly assuming her dad would understand and feel compassion for her. What really happened was quite the opposite. The father was very upset after reading her letter and believed that he was being assaulted. What was once an acceptable relationship was broken beyond repair. At the time the girl wrote the letter, she believed it would help her to get those things off her chest and did not take the time to contemplate how her father would cope with such things.

The case above could be considered”bad communication” as it damaged the connection it had been intended to improve. Here are a few things you may want to take into account before initiating a conversation with a person, especially when your message comprises sensitive, blaming or possibly negative information.

1. What do you expect to do with your message?

2. Try to predict how your audience will react. Are you ready for an unexpected outcome?

3. Is it so important that you receive your message across that it is worth the chance of breaking the connection? Sometimes it may be, like a case with a friend or partner.

4. If you predict that your message can cause undesirable effects, you might choose to use a good friend or relative as a sounding board, so that you can clear your thoughts of your own thoughts. Even more so, it can be quite useful for you to write the person a letter but not send it. I think this works better than spilling your guts to another party.

5. You may ask advice from a close friend or relative (especially if they know the receiver of this message). But always make the final decision about what to do. Your adviser likely has nothing to lose and might not give you appropriate advice in the matter.

Because of this, care must be taken on how best to communicate sensitive information. I think it always depends upon the conditions. Sometimes you will need to decide to hold back or lose the relationship.

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