Lines of Communication Open?

27 November 2010

How good are you at communicating? Personally? Intimately? How much do you hold back from others when communicating?

I’ve was thinking about this topic for a while and I often wonder why relationships, personal and professional, dissolve. When I watch others get into disagreements and even breakups and I analyze what went wrong. More often than not it because one or both parties didn’t disclose everything pertinent to their topic of dispute.

For some reason we often hold back information from others. It goes along with the phrase “information is power.” Yes, it is power and everyone always wants to have that power over others. By withholding information from others and then springing forth with it at the opportune time to make yourself look good is what usually happens. Sometimes it works out and no one gets upset, but sometimes it doesn’t. A lot of times the other person will feel cut down and inferior when that happens.

If you’re involved with someone as a friend or intimately, it is almost always better to be more open with them about things including your feelings. A lot of problems in relationships happen because walls are built keeping the other person out. Maybe we’re afraid of releasing our feelings and being judged critically for them. Perhaps we’re afraid to acknowledge certain feelings to ourselves.

By building these barrier walls around our feelings, shutting out the most important people in our lives breeds an unhealthy relationship and undermines the trust that is supposed to be the foundation of the relationship. When two people cannot trust one another, the relationship is certainly doomed.

We need to learn to share our thoughts, our feelings, our fears with our close and intimate friends, whether they be boyfriends, girlfriends, husbands or wives. We should be able to do so without fear of unsupportive criticism or judgment.

When our partner or friend discloses their thoughts or feelings, we need to be supportive and listen to them. Being critical or judgmental of them doesn’t help them and will often cause them to build those walls for the next time they consider opening up. The walls will manifest in the form of short verbal or non-verbal cues leading to the suspicion that they’re holding something back from you and aren’t willing to open up. They resent you for the perception of you being judgmental and they want you to know that as they throw a cut your way. It’s a game and it's a bad one.

You may not agree or see things the way the other person does, but if you want the relationship to flourish, you need to be supportive and non-judgmental. Assure them that they can trust you with their feelings and that you won’t turn on them.

More often than not, they probably just need someone to listen to them and not try and solve all their problems on the spot. They just need a shoulder to lean on and someone to vent to.

Be free to open up to your partner. Be a good partner and listen in a supportive manner.

Download the pdf version with pictures here.