Communication is number one in all our relationships. Without communication, we are unable to express our needs, our feelings, and thoughts. The lack of communication has as a result the distancing from our fellow human beings.
In inefficient communication methods, we can include non-communication due to self-pressure or fear of communication, complaint, nagging, criticism, accusation, threat, and attack. Our interlocutors may feel rejection, heartache, anger, and refuse to cooperate with us in all the above cases. There is competition, as one tries to prevail over others, and there is no cooperation and harmony. Both sides feel threatened.
Obstacles to more honest communication:
Sometimes we’re afraid to tell the truth because we don’t want to hurt the other person or clash with them. We are ashamed to be honest or worried that we will be hurt if we express the truth. We fear that we will lose our value or our pride does not allow us to tell how we feel or what we think. Other times, our competitive nature prevents us from talking honestly or expressing positive feelings embarrasses us.
An essential ingredient to establish effective communication in our relationships is to have self-awareness, that is, to be aware of what we feel or need. Through introspection, we can distinguish and understand the following factors:
1. The stimulus: what happened, or is happening around us or even “inside” our minds.
2. The needs we need to be satisfied to feel good; to feel, that is, security, reassurance, pleasure, freedom, and peace.
3. Emotions: what we feel about what happened, or is happening, or when we don’t have what we want.
4. Beliefs that contribute to the formation of these feelings.
5. Our reactions to others but also ourselves.
If we want to have effective communication with our fellow human beings, we need:
1. To be able to effectively help others understand what we need, feel and believe, through the process of “I-statements” and
2. To be able to listen to the needs, feelings, and beliefs of others and to understand them through the process of “active listening.”
Conditions for effective communication
If we want to communicate effectively, it is necessary to: be honest, have respect for each other and ourselves, find the right time to speak, and know when to talk (when, e.g., we have a problem, feel inadequate, or need something) and when to listen (when the other has a problem, feels terrible or needs something).
How we create an “I-statement”:
1. Starting: I explain that the problem is mine and that I need to communicate. We start the communication, explaining to the other person that we have a need or a problem, and we need his help to solve it.
2. Analyzing: Then, we can explain what we need, what happens when we don’t get what we need, and how we feel when that happens.
3. What I need – what I ask: At this stage, we explain to the other what we need from him.
4. Open to active listening: By completing our message, we allow the other interlocutor to express his feelings and thoughts about what we told him. Also, if we have specific questions for the other, we can ask them.
Examples of “I-statements”:
“I need you to be on time. I don’t like wasting my time waiting; I think you don’t respect me, and I feel anger, injustice, and rejection.”
“I need to know that you accept me for who I am and respect me. When you criticize me, I feel rejected and that you don’t love me. Then I feel anger and bitterness.”
“I need you to focus on me when I talk to you; otherwise, I think you don’t care about me and that we are unable to solve our problems. I feel rejection and injustice.”
“I need your help in neatness because I can’t relax when it’s not all clean and tidy. When you’re not helping me, I think you don’t consider my needs important, and I feel anger, rejection, and injustice.”
How to ‘actively listen’:
1. Let the person speak without interrupting him.
2. We look at each other in the eyes and don’t look away.
3. Let’s not start criticizing or giving advice.
4. We ask questions that will help us understand clearly what the other person feels and needs.
5. We can also confirm whether what we understood from our communication is correct or not.
Through open and honest communication, we can build relationships that stand the test of time, with reduced conflicts, more fulfilled people, and more peaceful and harmonious life.