Relationships

Communicating about Communication

“Communication – the human connection – is the key to personal and career success.” – Paul J. Meyer

A man and woman in close conversation smiling

What is Communication?

Communication is the way in which humans socialize and interact with one another. It is essentially how information is delivered from one person or place to another. Some people are good communicators, while others are poor communicators…

Good Communicators:

  • Listens carefully
  • Waits to respond thoughtfully
  • Chooses their words responsibly
  • Makes effective and efficient statements
  • Says the right amount of information
  • Seeks open and honest discussion

Poor Communicators:

  • Does not listen
  • Interrupts others while they are speaking
  • Responds quickly and without thinking
  • Self-centered communication
  • Says too much and is repetitive
  • Avoids confrontation
  • Does not speak the truth
  • Lack of communication

Types of Communication:

  • We communicate both verbally and nonverbally 
    • Verbal communication 
      • Exchange of information using speech or spoken words
      • Verbal communication can also include the use of enunciation and tone of voice
    • Nonverbal communication
      • Exchange of information without the use of words
      • Body language, facial expressions, posture, gestures, eye contact, spatial distance and physical interactions
      • Nonverbal communication can also include stress and tone of voice

Who Do We Communicate With?

Communication is a constant part of our lives. We communicate daily whether we want to and mean to or not. We typically assume that communication means that we are exchanging information with other human beings. Some of these people might include our partner, parent, children, friends, extended family, co-workers, clerks, bankers, and the list goes on.

However, we communicate and interact with non-humans as well. Communication with non-humans may or may not be intended. Regardless, we are communicating with everyone and everything around us. Some of these non-humans we might communicate with include our pets, nature, and even animals in the wild.

Miscommunication

One would think that because communication is something that we do everyday, all day, for the extent of our lifetime, we would be experts. But this is far from the truth. It is actually quite the opposite. Poor communication can be far more common and widespread than good communication actually is. Often times, it is the lack of communication or miscommunication where a message can be communicated poorly.

Technical Times

Modern day communication is more than just a conversation where two people are both physically present. Between phone calls, text, and email there are a multitude of ways in which people might have a conversation — which is what makes good communication so difficult today. It is hard to always send a message of information unknowing how the receiver will accept it. How did they respond nonverbally when they initially received the message? What is the tone of their typed response back? It is so hard to read and analyze these types of messages and this is how miscommunication and misunderstanding develop.

A man on the phone annoyed with bad communication

Relationship Issues Resulting from Poor Communication

All relationships are unique, whether it is a professional relationship or a romantic relationship. However, intimate interpersonal relationships can trigger a stronger sense of emotions. When there is poor communication from one or both people involved in an exchange, both small and large mental health issues can develop. 

Some short term issues that can develop include:

  • Heightened emotions
    • Sudden increase in thoughts and feelings related to a conversation or interaction
    • Extreme sadness, anger, and frustration
  • Misunderstanding
    • When there is a failure to communicate effectively resulting in misinformation and misunderstanding
    • Can usually be corrected and overcome with good communication
  • Loss of appetite
    • Little to no interest in eating due to sadness or anger
  • Increase in appetite
    • Stress eating and binging on unhealthy food to help cope with negative or frustrating emotions

Some long term issues that can develop include:

  • Anxiety
    • Prolonged sense of stress, worry, and concern
    • May feel anxious and insecure about attempting future communication and conversation if the previous negative interaction was painful
  • Depression
    • Deep sense of sadness and negative feelings associated with poor communication
    • If the relationship has been terminated due to communication issues, a person may enter a dark time due to:
      • Anger or sadness based on the other individual’s communication
      • Personal guilt for their own poor communication
  • Eating disorders
    • Anorexia and bulimia can develop as a way of coping with their emotions
    • Weight gain, obesity, and diabetes can develop as overeaters cope with a lost relationship
  • Addiction issues
    • As a coping method, people may turn to unhealthy habits
      • Drug use, alcohol, cigarettes, and gambling use

Why is Good Communication Good?

Good communication is learned for most people. It is not something that always comes naturally. While some people may be gifted with good communication techniques, everyone has their pitfalls. 

It is important to try to practice good communication for the sake of developing and maintaining healthy relationships, both personal and professional. 

With patience and mindfulness comes tactfulness and maturity. When we can develop a maturity in the way we exchange information we will have more positive and successful relationships.

Tips for Good & Healthy Communication

Puzzle showing good communication principles
  1. Listen
  2. Stay calm and level-headed
  3. Take breaks and pause before you say something in a way you could regret
  4. Avoid blaming or pointing fingers
  5. Avoid comparisons
  6. If it is a professional exchange, act professionally!
  7. Understand the importance of your word choice
  8. Understand the importance of your nonverbal messages
  9. Do not threaten or give ultimatums
  10.  Be clear and direct
  11.  Be willing to negotiate and open to conversation
  12.  Be honest

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