24. Communicationship

Good morning and welcome to your twenty-fourth meditation. Perhaps you’ve heard it said that good relationships are founded on good communication. Communicating is quite literally how we relate to one another, hence no communication, no relationship. The whole enterprise could just as easily be called a communicationship. This may all seem rather obvious to you, and yet we tend to struggle to effectively communicate in our relationships all the time. Sometimes it’s a problem of not being able to articulate what we would like to say, sometimes it’s a problem of using the wrong tone when saying it, sometimes it’s a matter of timing – saying the right thing, but at the wrong time, and sometimes what is being communicated hasn’t been thought through enough and it is simply an issue of saying the wrong thing. And just as often the blockage is on the receiving end of an instance of attempted communication. We tend to think of listening as a passive activity, however it takes a lot of work to be a good listener and so complete the communicative exchange. This work entails tempering our defensiveness and vanity; practising patience – patience to hear the other person out, and also patience to process what you are hearing before reacting to it; practising empathy or trying to understand why the other person might feel the way they feel, and doing your best to create an environment where the other person feels comfortable saying whatever it is they need to say.

So how do we apply all these principles in a relationship? A good place to start is this very idea of need. What do you need from your partner or family member or colleague? What do they require of you? What is most important to you in a relationship and what won’t you tolerate. Establish your own answers to these questions by yourself before even engaging in a discussion with the other person. This will help you state your needs clearly when it comes time to communicate them, and minimize the possibility of being misunderstood. Ask them what their needs are. Give them as much time as they require to answer this question. If they struggle to reply, try asking more specific prompting questions that might feel less abstract to them. If they become defensive or angry or uncomfortable, give them space. As necessary as communication may be in a relationship, forcing it will often backfire and so close certain pathways that may have previously been available to you.

With so many aspects to consider, it’s no surprise that successful communication in relationships can be difficult to achieve. However if you regularly take the time to try to understand your partner’s needs as well as your own; if you constantly remind yourself to be sensitive, empathic, and patient; and if you’re willing to be vulnerable, trusting the legitimacy of your own feelings while also trusting the other person to handle your confidences with care, then you will find that you are able to connect to people with a depth that you may not have known existed, and therein derive one of the richest joys available to us humans. Keep it up. You’re doing great. Have a wonderful day.

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