Are You Really Listening
Poor communication root of many problems
I have been providing communication therapy services for the last twelve years. Over that period of time, working with couples and families (and my own relationships), I have come to learn this: many (if not most) of the "deep-rooted" problems in relationships are caused by poor communication.
So, before you wipe out that check book and pay a psychiatrist your life savings, consider improving the way you communicate with your loved ones.
Most important thing to remember
The most important thing to remember regarding communication and how you communicate with others is that we all process what we are hearing in very different ways. There are five representational systems (ways in which the brain processes information and stimuli). And most people have one primary representational system, meaning that they are weak in all the others.
Because of the differences in these, you cannot (even with respect to your family, closest friends, lovers or associates) assume that the person your are talking to processes what is being said in the same way you do, because this is usually not the case!
Now, on top of differences in representational systems, add the fact that we all, from time to time, are engaged in the habit of hearing what we want to hear, rather than hearing what is really being said. This is especially true in situations where the conversation is of an intense, sensitive or volatile nature. Now, add to this, the fact that we all have a nasty habit of interpreting what is being said according to our own model of the world. We do this rather than making an effort to determine or clarify what is being said so that we can understand the other person's model of the world!
Here's a clue
Ah! Therein lies a clue....making the effort to understand the other person's model of the world. This is extremely important for clear, concise and effective communicating. It is also essential to the cultivation of compassion, a very necessary element when communication is tense, strained, or starts to breakdown.
Here's the hard part. If you want to improve communication within your most intimate and loving relationships, you will have to start, not by pointing the finger of blame, but by taking responsibility for how you contribute to the problem. In fact, improving how you communicate will, over time, actually change the behavior of those you are in relationship with. Then you can help them make the changes you have made. Here's where to begin.
The response you get
If you don't get the intended response, or you're not happy with the response you're getting, you probably need to examine the way in which you are communicating and choose a different tact, one that incorporates the other person's model of the world. This is especially true when you are aware that all parties to the communication have sincere intentions.
Ah. "How do I incorporate the other person's model of the world into my communication?," you ask. Well, I can't give you the results of years of research in this field in one article, but here's a hint: by communicating in a way that elicits the other person's model of the world (more on this in future articles).