Is Your Communication Up to Scratch?

Communication

At a recent marriage seminar Richard and I asked each person to write down the biggest problem in their relationship.

The top two issues were communication and sex. In that order.  And more men said communication was a problem than women.  Interesting…

If you’ve ever watched a soapie (I used to J) you’ll know that one of the biggest problems in the onscreen relationships is lack of communication.

Half the drama could be eliminated if the people would either just tell each other what’s going on in their heads or stop assuming they know what the other person is thinking!

(But then I suppose the story wouldn’t drag out for so long, right?)

Whether you are just entering a relationship, about to get married, are newly married or have a bunch of married years behind you, communication is essential.

Because without satisfying, effective communication, relationships break down.

Studies show that improving your communication increases the quality of your relationship more than anything else you do.

What is communication?

Dr’s Les and Leslie Parrott share 3 levels of communication in their book Love Talk.[i]

Level one: The grunt level. This is the shallowest level of communication and consists of saying required things like, “How are you doing?” that is met with the predictable “Fine.” This level is a great comfort level but won’t be good if that’s all your communication ever consists of.

Level two. The journalist level. This is talking about facts and opinions. Politics, movies, people, church, sports. While this level of communication has its place it lacks intimacy and real connectedness.  Reporting and discussing won’t always bring you closer together.

Level three.  The feelings level. A couples reaches this level when each person feels safe enough to share areas of weakness or feelings that may put him or her in a bad light.  It means you let your guard down. You reveal your heart and speak your mind, yet know that you will be understood and accepted.

The exchange of information will not keep a love relationship alive. Nor will a bunch of communication techniques.

The secret to good communication is the desire to understand each other. You must be genuine.

Genuineness is expressed in your tone and non-verbal behaviour, your eyes and posture.

It’s something you are, not something you do.

It comes from the heart.

Good communication consists of two things:  expressing thoughts verbally and listening.

But you want to do more than just talk and listen.  You want to do them well.

How to express yourself well:

There is a difference between expressing thoughts and expressing them well.  This matters a lot when you are tackling a sticky issue. I’m not saying you have to express yourself perfectly, but learning to do it better will go a long way when working through conflict.  (For more on conflict resolution read what not to do when you’re in a fight)

Here are some tips:

  • Make sure that your heart is under God’s control. Don’t allow your feelings to rule as you communicate. If you are too angry to talk rationally then take some time to get yourself calm before engaging again. Make sure you don’t abandon the conversation. Come back to it and finish it.
  • When dealing with conflict, take some time to think about what you should say. Write your thoughts down. This will help you to stay focused and not get side-tracked or forget what you need to say.  “The heart of the righteous studieth to answer: but the mouth of the wicked poureth out evil things.” Proverbs 15:28
  • Never say “never” or “always”. “You never listen to me!” or “You always leave your clothes on the floor,” are absolute statements.  Is it true that he never listens? Does she always leave her clothes on the floor? I bet not.
  • Learn when to stop talking. “In the multitude of words there wanteth not sin: but he that refraineth his lips is wise.” Proverbs 10:19 Silence is also communication.  Learn to use it – not as punishment but as a result of self-control.

How to listen well:

Listening is as important as talking when it comes to good communication.

Here are some tips to listening well:

  • Choose to focus and really hear what the other person is saying. Listening and hearing are not the same thing.
  • Make positive eye contact, not a fixed stare.
  • Have an open, inviting posture. Folding your arms or turning your back show that you are closed to communication.
  • Don’t fidget – cleaning your glasses, cracking your knuckles, looking at your watch or phone or drumming your fingers all indicate that you are not engaged.
  • Allow the other person to express themselves without interruption. Each person should have a chance to share their thoughts.
  • Check that you understand what they are saying by repeating back to them what you have heard – what they say and what you hear are not always the same thing.

There is only one rule for being a good talker – learn to listen. [ii]

Don’t know where to start on improving your communication?

Here are three simple things you can do to begin improving your communication:

  1. Slow down. Eliminate hurry from your conversations.  Sit still without multitasking, linger over your meal instead of rushing off, turn off the TV or radio.
  2. Plan some talk time. Build a chat time into your schedule at least 2 or 3 times a week.  Whether it’s a date night or just some time alone at home, do it.
  3. Aim to reach the deepest level of communication – sharing of feelings. This requires vulnerability and trust.  Revealing your heart and speaking your mind will be easy when you know that your partner understands and accepts you.

Communication is a skill you can learn – like riding a bicycle.  If you’re willing to work at it you will improve.

And so will your relationship.

Because communication is the lifeblood of relationship.

Are you satisfied with your communication? Where do you need to improve? Leave a comment below.

[i] Love Talk, 42, Drs Les & Leslie Parrott

[ii] Christopher Morley

About The Author

Jennifer Lovemore

Jennifer has diplomas in relationship counselling and CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy), is a certified SYMBIS facilitator, and is certified in TPM (Transformation Prayer Minsitry). She lives in South Africa, has three grown children, and is married to her best friend – Richard.

6 COMMENTS

  1. ساخت نرم افزار | 30th Aug 19

    Ciao ,can you give me some advices about a career in blog writing? grazie

    • Jenny | 4th Sep 19

      Hi there!
      I’m not sure what advice you need but Google, youtube, a blogging course – all these will help you get started. 🙂 Learn to write well, how to write for the web, and then just start!

      All the best!

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  4. 5 Reasons to Get Premarital Counseling and Set Yourself Up for a Successful Marriage - Love More to Live | 14th Oct 20

    […] always come naturally. It’s a skill that can be learned. (For more on communication read Is your Communication up to Scratch? or watch these two videos: 8 Ways to Improve Couple Communication and 12 Communication […]

  5. When Parents Don't See Eye to Eye (how to get unity) - Love More to Live | 26th May 21

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