While there are several factors that contribute to a healthy relationship, communication is key to maintaining and strengthening a relationship. Sometimes, we can face turbulence in our relationships when we struggle with stress, mental health disorders, or addiction. Without effective communication, all relationships, whether adults or adolescents, are at risk for conflicts. Maintaining our relationships with our significant others, friends, and family members is so important because of the support we get from them when we most need it.
One barrier to communication can be assumptions. In our relationships, we might assume that the other person knows how we feel and what we think. Often, this leads to assuming the other person also knows how to act or react in the way we want. The reality is, no matter how close we are with that person, they are not a mind-reader. They probably don’t know what you think or how you feel exactly. Therefore, they don’t know exactly what you want them to do next. It is important to identify your own assumptions in your relationships and to check-in with the other person about these assumptions. You can compare your assumptions with the other person’s assumptions to look at what you both know about each other and what you can learn in your relationship.
Sometimes, assumptions are also made based on the look on someone’s face, a small gesture, or a quick phrase. I’m sure many of us remember a time when we said ‘hi’ to someone but they didn’t say ‘hi’ back. We might assume they are mad at us. Really, they might be having a bad day or other things on their mind. When this type of thing happens in our relationships, it is important to take a camera lens look at the situation. What would a video camera capture in that moment? It would capture you saying ‘hi,’ and the other person walking by. What it didn’t capture was what that meant, which is where our assumptions come in. Consider other reasons why a person might act in a certain way other than what you assume might be wrong with you.
A second barrier to communication can be unrealistic expectations in the relationship. Do you expect too much from your partner, your child, or your friend? Do they expect too much of you? When this happens, anger, resentment, and isolation can occur. One effective strategy is to list all of your expectations in the relationship and have the other person do the same. Compare your expectations and determine if they are realistic. There can be compromise with expectations so that both persons feel they are being respected.
When addressing communication with a friend, family member, or significant other, it is important to focus on positives as well! You and the other person can identify strengths in the relationship and traits you value in each other. Recall fun memories, look at old pictures, and have permission to laugh together.
Please call 201-488-6678 to learn more about communication.