Recovering families can be sparred much heartache and many distortions of the truth. Be aware of the blocks to effective communication.
Human communication has many levels. The actual words we say form only one facet of communication, Our gestures, body language, and facial expressions send signals to others and color our words with meaning. The amount of eye contact, our posture and the physical proximity we share with others play a role as well. Yes, our words may convey one meaning, but a dozen other signals muddy the message. Of course, when left to interpret all these facets of communication, we may create erroneous conclusions. Poor communication skills lead to mistrust and confusion.
Some common blocks are:
Many forms of distraction bombard us every day. A distracted person only half-heartedly engages in conversation. We are often involved in many activities. A busy mental state interferes with our ability to be in the moment. We may also fall into daydreaming or planning any number of other life events and fail to hear the other person’s words.
Pre-Planning our Response
Since we think more quickly than we talk, we might drift into planning our response before the person has even completed their sentence. When we think about our response more than we listen to others, we miss key points of conversation.
True listening plays an important role in communication. Hearing another person and listening are gravely different. If our own agenda is pressing, we may dismiss the thoughts of others. It takes effort to really be present and open in an exchange.
Close mindedness forms another formidable roadblock. When information becomes upsetting or confrontational to our basic beliefs, we resist. Often we shut out parts of sentences or entire ideas. We are challenged to take in another point of view or we refuse to absorb the essence of the conversation. Our inflexible and rigid thinking keeps us in a protective mode. Judgmental, preconceived ideas can flood our minds and keep us from hearing what is actually being said.
Worry about what someone else may think can stop us in our tracks. When our main concern is, “What will they think of me?” we are hindered in our ability to have better relationships. We are less than honest and communication breaks down.
Negative Self Talk
Feeling you have little to contribute leads to inner questions like,” What good is it to share my experiences with another person? and statements like, “I can’t really help the situation here.” Dealing with self-esteem issues makes one wonder if they can share one’s views effectively and unnecessarily shut down.
Over Emphasis on Keeping the Peace
Peace Keeping at all costs can be a pitfall that often backfires. When our main focus is to avoid conflict, our communication suffers. We fail to reveal our true opinions, actual sentiments, and avoid others who do not authentically connect with us.
It takes time to develop good communication skills. If you didn’t learn these skills as a child in your family, it will take time to create a skill set that helps you manage these blocks and experience greater harmony with others in the future.
Take time to examine your frame of mind. It takes awareness of our inner landscape and a willingness to lay down our defenses to really hear what others are saying. Begin to notice which block pertains to you. Are you are too distracted to really listen? Do you really shut down when conversations challenge you? Is the nagging voice of “Will they like me if I say….?” difficult to ignore.
Being able to share meaning with another person hinges on our willingness to be genuine, truly present, and congruent. In other words, it’s hard work. Hard work yields great rewards.
“The way we communicate with others and with ourselves ultimately determines the quality of our lives.” – Anthony Robbins