First of all, I would like to congratulate the both of you on your commitment to one another and also to thank you for the opportunity to share some communication concepts with you. Communication is the most important element to having a successful relationship. All too often, our words and body language are taken for granted which can sometimes cause a negative impact on relationships. To have a more successful relationship, you must first have the necessary skills it takes for the two of you to communicate more effectively. These communication skills include knowing your partner through self-disclosure, understanding the power of verbal and non-verbal communication, overcoming the barriers caused by society, to be able to recognize the effect words can have during communication and learning how to develop strategies that will manage any interpersonal conflicts that may arise. Self-disclosure is a key element in a marriage which increases trust in each other while building a strong relationship. When a couple talks to each other, they share a part of themselves through their conversation.
They get to know each other’s thoughts, feelings, fears, doubts and perceptions. Understanding your partners inner most thoughts and feelings will significantly impact how you see yourself as well as others (Sole, 2011). By doing so, it will reveal your vulnerabilities that can deepen your relationship with one another. In an article that was written by Nara Schoenbert, “Can We Talk”, she talks about an interview with a research scientist by the name of Terri Orbuch who works for the Institute for Social Research at the University of Michigan. She discovered that some married couples may” have a two hour conversation and not talk about anything with substance or value or quality” (Schoenberg 2011, para. 3). Even Running head: ADVICE3
though couples are talking, they may not be communicating. She also explains the importance of communication within a marriage. She goes on to explain that when two people first become a couple, they are so excited and they have a tendency to share more of themselves. However, once they have been together for a while, and have had children, have elderly parents to take care of, demanding jobs, exercise routines, or hobbies, these things can get in the way of their relationship. They spend so much time on dealing with their everyday lives that they do not have time to spend together, therefore, growing apart from one another. Ms. Orbuch does have a suggestion that may help couples and that is to take ten minutes out of each day and spend it together in some quality conversation time. A lot of times, once couples come home from work or running errands, when they talk to each other, it us just generalized questions. Her suggestion is to send the kids to their room, turn off all cell phones and sit back and enjoy each other’s company. The key is to not talk about whose turn it is to do what on the chore list, or who has the next dentist appointment, but to concentrate on each other.
Talk about each other’s feelings, goals, values, and sources of stress, talk more on a personal level. The significance of a spending just ten minutes per day with each other in a quality conversation will bring you closer together and will greatly increase your chance of having a long lasting relationship. Communication can be difficult at times and understanding the power of verbal and non-verbal communications can improve one’s personal style of communication. There are four basic personal communication styles; passive – means that you are shy and introverted, assertive – means that you are spontaneous and communicate freely with non-verbal communication, aggressive – means that you are forceful and have a tendency to intimidate others, and passive-aggressive – means that you are stubborn, and you manipulates others (Sole, 2011).
Your Running head: ADVICE4 particular style of communication defines who you are and by understanding this, you will be able to express your thoughts and feelings in a more clearly understood manner. When you are aware of your mate’s communication style, as well as understanding your own, it can help you create better communication skills. A person’s personality, including emotional stability and perception, affect and influence their communication style. The meaning of perception “is the process of acquiring, interpreting and organizing information that comes in through your senses” (Sole, 2011). In other words it is how you see the world. It is important to share your perceptions and true emotions with each other. How you think and feel will impact your communication style and directly affect your relationship. When a person speaks, their tone, pitch, rhythm and intensity can play a huge part on how the receiver receives the message they are portraying. Another big part of a person’s style of communication is their non-verbal communication. Communication is more than just words, it also consists of one’s body language, emotions and perceptions. Non-verbal communication can also include specific sounds, noises and behaviors called non-verbal vocalizations, which are whispering, crying, shouting, laughing, gasping, and panting (Sole, 2011, p. 5.2).
Sometimes these vocalizations can be considered rude. Humans begin their communication from the time they are born. Babies begin learning how to communicate with their parents immediately. For instance, they know that if they cry, someone will come and pick them up and either change them or feed them (Sole, 2011). Through non-verbal communication one can reinforce the message that is spoken, be a substitute for words, or contradict the message (Sole, 2011, p. 5.1). Since men and women are different, they may hear things differently, which can also cause miscommunication between the two of them. Some couples may think that they are Running head: ADVICE5
communicating well with one another, when in all reality they are not. According to Professor Kenneth Savitsky, a professor of phycology at Williams College in Wimmiamsbey, Massachusetts, “Some couples may indeed be on the same wavelength, but maybe not as much as they think, you get rushed and preoccupied and you stop the perspective of the other person , precisely because the two of you are so close” (U.S. News, 2011, para. 5). When a couple has poor communication, their relationship can suffer. The symptoms of poor communication can cause a relationship to breakdown and fall apart.
It can cause a person to feel as though the other person is not listening, can cause arguing, and can cause you to get defensive no matter what the other person has said. It can also make it difficult for you to relate to one another and even cause you to second guess the relationship itself. The further the relationship is allowed to go on because of poor communication, the harder it is for you to build up your trust and to return your relationship to what it once was.
One of the best ways to improve your communication skills is to watch what you say to one another. Words can be very powerful, therefore, it is best to think before you speak. Today’s technology has changed the way our society communicates with one another which has created a barrier to effective interpersonal communications. According to an article by Dominique Browning that was written in the International Herald Tribune, people are spending less time talking face-to-face. Instead they talk on cell phones, send text messages, or use Skype on their computers in order to communicate with other people (Browning, 2011). For instance, have you ever noticed when you go to a restaurant or Movie Theater how many couples are sitting together, but they seem too preoccupied with their cell phones and not really paying
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attention to the person they are with? This is the time when couples should be paying closer attention with one another. To achieve effective communication interaction, they should put the technology away and focus only on the person they are with. They need to see, touch and understand each other. This will open up their dialog and promote a healthy relationship without any distractions. To be an effective communicator, a person needs to develop good communication skills before they can understand their partners and respond to their remarks (Sole, 2011). Another barrier to effective interpersonal communication is the ability to listen well to your partner.
Most people may think they are listening well, however, they could be poor listeners. When a person listens to their partner, they should have an open mind, make eye contact and focus on what their partner is saying. Unless you can listen effectively, it would make it difficult to understand your partner, respond to what they are saying and to provide feedback to them (Sole, 2011, p.7.3). When the two of you listen to one another, try to remember these components to becoming an effective listener; listen to what your partner is saying, pay close attention to the message, correctly interpret the message, evaluate the message and remember and respond to the message. Finally, there are times when communicating, your personal differences can create conflict, therefore, it is important to develop strategies to learn how to deal with these conflicts. Strong feelings can be triggered by conflicts which can cause feelings to be hurt (Segal and Smith, 2013). Even though having conflict in a relationship is normal, the difference is how the conflict is dealt with. You cannot expect for two people who spend a lot of their time together to Running head: ADVICE 7
not have a disagreement from time to time. If you deal with the conflict in a healthy way, it can build trust between the two of you and also strengthening the bond between you. However, if you do not deal with it appropriately, the conflict can cause animosity and tension between the two of you (Segal and Smith, 2013). According to Segal and Smith, “the ability to successfully resolve conflict depends on your ability to; (1) manage stress quickly while remaining alert and calm, (2) control your emotions and behavior, (3) pay attention to the feelings being expressed, and (4) be aware of and respectful of differences (Segal and Smith, 2013, p. 2, para. 10). In order for you to have a long term relationship, it requires you to show respect and consideration for each other. You need to recognize each other’s needs and be willing to examine them in a loving and compassionate environment.
This will open up ways for you to solve your issues in a more creative way, and improve your relationship (Segal and Smith, 2013). Since non-verbal communication is an important aspect of a conflict, the conversation can be driven by the way a person stands, their facial expressions, the gestures they make, the tone and intensity of their voice. During a conflict, you must pay attention to your partner, this may help you figure out exactly what is being said which can help you to respond effectively and ultimately getting to the heart of the problem. Also, when two people speak calmly, and rationally, they have a tendency to be able to resolve their issues without complications. For example, I was married for over twenty years to which we had a pretty close relationship. He had an aggressive communication style while I had a passive communication style. People use to always tell us that our relationship would not last because we were total opposites, however, we proved them wrong. There are two things that I contribute to that relationship is the fact that we
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communicated well with each other and if we did have a disagreement, it was settled before we went to bed. My mother use to always tell me that, “there is one thing to remember in a relationship and that is to never go to bed angry or upset with one another or leave the house angry or upset. Always take care of any conflicts that you may have with one another before bed and before you leave for work, because you never know if it will be the last words spoken.” Since my parents were married for 47 years, I always felt as though she knew a little about how to have a long happy marriage and since this has been good advice for me, I hope that it will be for you as well. Jamie and Kevin, the key to a successful marriage is effectively communicating and sharing personal thoughts and feelings with each other. Just as a reminder, no relationship is perfect, however, in order for you to have a successful relationship, it is necessary to have good interpersonal communication skills.
Once the two of you have disclosed yourself to one another and have grown in the knowledge of each other, understand how to utilize verbal and non-verbal communication, understand the barriers that can be caused by society, are able to recognize the effects that words you say to one another can have in your communication and have developed the strategies necessary to manage any form of interpersonal conflict that may arise, I am sure that your love will grow and the two of you will prosper. However, even if you are to come across any problems in your path together, I hope that I have provided you with enough information that will help you combat them and head them off before they become too hard to handle. Always remember what my mother told me, never go out the door without solving any conflicts that exist between the two of you and never go to bed angry with one another.
My Running head 9 belief is that these are the components that you will need to have a long and happy relationship together. Again, I would like to thank you for the opportunity to share with you these communication skills. I hope you will be able to utilize these skills as the two of you journey into your life together. Good luck and best wishes to both of you.