Tuesday, 1 September 2009

Barriers to Effective Communication

Our next counselling session is on the 10th of September, just wanted to pen a few thoughts on the topic given to us to work on before consulting Mr O. Communication, sex and money are three very important pillars in marital relationships, I always put communication first on the list because I think success in the other two areas depend on having effective communication with your partner.

Communication involves SPEAKING, LISTENING and UNDERSTANDING. If there are any issues in or with any of these areas then we get a breakdown in communication. A pastor told me that the most important point to remember was to 'always keep the lines of communication open'. So what are the barriers;

  • Resentment and anger; the Bible says we should be slow to speak, quick to listen and slow to get angry. The truth is I can be the exact opposite, I get angry quite quickly (Help me Holy Spirit) when I'm angry, I don't really want to talk to Mr O so this affects the speaking part but if we are not speaking this delays us from working at conflict resolution. I'm learning not to discuss important issues at the height of emotion i.e when I'm really upset or when I'm really happy.

  • Pride (thanks Aunty Y), pride is a posture that says I'm right, I'm always right and even when I'm wrong, I'm right....hmm I wish I could say I've got this in check as well. Well, we are all a work in progress. Pride also prevents one from asking forgiveness when it is needed.

  • Wrong timing; Saying the right thing at the wrong time could end up blowing in your face, I've been there, done that and have the T-shirt to show for it. I personally believe that because women tend to more intuitive, we see things coming and are always so eager to let the man in our life know but I am asking God for the grace to know when to speak and when to keep quiet. I mentioned about not discussing important issues at the height of emotion either happy or sad; this is because sometimes there are some things that just have to be said and I tend to not want to 'rock the boat' if I feel we are in a good place but I see Mr O as my best friend which means that I need to love him enough to give my 2 cents even when I know it may hurt him. I've learnt that it's not always so much WHAT is said as it is HOW it is said. Tough words given in an atmosphere of love and acceptance are usually easier to swallow, the Bible says 'better are wounds from a friend'

  • Personality types: I believe that there are 4 main temperaments as described by Tim Lahaye, I'm basically a melancholic type which means I just retreat within myself and go into my monosyllable mode..yes, no, ok..Lol! This isn't a good thing because inwardly I'm seething and resentment is building, on the other hand Mr O isn't good at bringing up things for discussion, he has a more phlegmatic approach to life, with the day to day things well he can talk but for the more weighty issues he prefers to contribute his own two cents when I've raised it. I'm still not so sure this is a good thing but the whole thing about understanding personality types is knowing that we can have a Spirit controlled temperament whereby we can choose to behave in a way which we would normally not for example instead of going into my Yes vs. No mood I can remind myself that the word of God says that anger resides in the bosom of a fool and let go of it and discuss how I'm really feeling, easier said than done!

  • Unresolved issues: The Bible says not to let the sun go down on our anger, to that I add if I could, to not allow too many suns go down without coming to a resolution on matters. By resolution, I don't believe we have to agree but we can agree to disagree. I and Mr O have very different opinions when it comes to weddings, rather than allowing it to be an unresolved issue, I have chosen to agree to disagree with him. When the time comes, hopefully we will come to a Win-Win agreement.

  • Distractions: This is so important, I guess it ties in with right timing, I don't like it when I'm discussing something important and Mr O is not paying attention especially when it's over the phone. I'm also learning to give my total attention when my friends are speaking to me. I think it's a sign of respect.

This post was difficult to write because now I don't really have the excuse of ignorance to hide behind as I know what some of the barriers to effective communication are. I don't want to be a writer and not a doer, so what are the solutions..

  • Prayer: There is nothing like it and I wouldn't leave the house without it. Prayer changes situations and people but the most interesting thing I've found is that the more I pray, the more GOD changes ME. Prayer gives me the grace and strength to do things I didn't think I was capable of.
  • Staying in the word of God: The Bible is full of practical wisdom that can be applied to our lives. Solomon tells us in Proverbs that it is better to be on the roof than share a house with a nagging wife (ouch!), also isn't it interesting that Esther presented her case to the king after she had fed him (lol!), also we are reminded to love one another and be kind to one another. Jesus sometimes had strong words for his disciples..I recall him calling them dull!! but I'm sure they knew He loved them.
  • Take the responsibility: Use I more often than you, I feel that as opposed to "You do this", while this doesn't mean my partner is right, I am acknowledging that I still have a role to play while making him understanding how his behaviour is having an effect on me
  • Keep the lines of communication clear and open at all times: No more silent treatment, no more malice. Hmm, I confess that sometimes I do wait for him to be the first to say sorry but that's less often now than it was before so things are changing. One thing I've realised also is that 80% of the time when I'm busy rolling my eyes at the phone, he's not even aware that something is wrong! Lol!
  • Seek more to understand than to be understood; This is one of the habits of Highly Effective People from Stephen Covey, this will involve the higher way of listening and understanding more than speaking. Try and understand where your partner is coming from. After meeting Dr O (Mr O's dad) I learnt a lot about why he behaved the way he did sometimes and it helped me understand where he was coming from on a lot of issues, never underestimate the role your upbringing plays on molding the person you are today! Understanding brings about tolerance.

Ok, this assignment feels more like a punishment, why isn't the right thing to do always the easiest thing, love is a spiritual thing, you can't really succeed from the natural level alone. I think I need to meditate on these words. I'll let you know how it all went.

Till later




Hey come back and update soon, how is it going...

Hadassah said...

@september: I'm so happy for you dearie. Your last post was fabulous,

From Now Till I Do said...

Such a great posts - and so so true!