Communication is central to our interaction with others. It allows us to understand and be understood. The word itself comes from the Latin for “common” and “sharing.” It is the foundation of Marriage and Family Therapy, which holds the systemic view that we are a part of a web of relationships.
In its most basic form communication involves the sender of a message encoding the intent in words, and the receiver who decodes it according to his or her own interpretation. It is important to understand that both of these functions are rife with misunderstandings. We all have our own view of the world, and this affects how we interpret the message. We usually assume that the interpretations of the receiver are similar to our own, but they are often quite different. One way to help ensure clear communication is to use “active listening” in which the receiver discloses their interpretation of what was just said. This can then be clarified or corrected by the sender. The interpretation is often not what the intent of the communication was.
The content of the message – the words – are only part of the communication process. Body language and tone, however, are actually even more critical than the words for interpretation. Non-verbal factors include tone of voice, body language, eye contact, expression, and many more.
It is important to consider how what you say may affect the interpretation process for people. This is because, if you sound moralizing, blaming, or many other appearances, you could make the receiver feel inferior, judged, interrogated, or many other possible negative reactions.
When we are angry in a disagreement, we often tend to blame someone else in our communication, and this is detrimental to any interaction. Someone feeling blamed will react negatively and will certainly not remain calm for further discussions to follow. One solution to blame is to realize that anger is usually covering some hurt that has occurred, and it is more productive to communicate what that hurt is. It is also productive to ask for clarification and validate what you heard rather than react immediately.
Although we communicate thoughts, ideas, opinions, and so on, it is the communication of our feelings which is most important for building relationships, intimacy, and trust.
People often take communication for granted but is really a skill that we can all learn. This is not something that is usually taught, and many people end up fighting and damaging their relationships without this important skill.
If you are looking for ways to develop and improve your communication skills, contact us on our website or feel free to give us a call about scheduling an appointment today.
Chapman, A. (2007). Mehrabian’s communication research. Retrieved January 5, 2007, from http://www.businessballs.com/
Givens, D. B. (n.d.). Nonverbal communication. Retrieved January 5, 2007, from the Center for Nonverbal Studies Web site: http://members.aol.com/nonverbal2/nvcom.htm
Peters, J.D. (2008). Communication: History of the Idea, https://doi.org/10.1002/9781405186407.wbiecc075
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