In the healthiest of environments, people advance from ‘relationship’ to ‘engaged’ status because two people have mutually acknowledged each other, have common understandings, and act with the other person’s concerns in mind. A relationship, be it for marriage, friends or business, requires a domain of actions and an assessment that your partner is worth trust because they act with the intention to take care and not betray shared concerns. One of those elements is the interpersonal communication between the people in the relationship. When communicating effectively, there is a behavioral coordination that results from the coupling between two people in such a way that the relationship can limit the drift of day-to-day life, and move with effective communication practices that will address fundamental concerns.
The bedrock of effective interpersonal communication is to first know who ‘you’ are. Review and understanding of your self-concept, self-image, self-esteem, and personality will allow for greater spaces for possibility to understand the same elements of your partner. Interpersonal communication involves both verbal and nonverbal communication and both of these communication types can be expressed in a variety of different ways.
One aspect to clearly understand is that communication is complex because it involves two or more people to be in a dance of coordinated action that will take care of concerns and/or fulfill the narrative of the future. Communication is also continuous; to be most effective in the domain of interpersonal communication there is a requirement of recurrence, recursion and reciprocation. Communication is also dynamic in that the action requires the embodiment of practices that allow you to transform between public, private and behavioral queues with your significant other.
Equally important to remember is the misconception that communication cannot transform interpretation. Languaging is a linguistic coordination of linguistic coordination’s, a domain of descriptions of descriptions that refer back to themselves for meaning. Our classroom text asserts that we cannot exactly repeat something we have said in the past. Even if our words are the same – the tome of voice and other characteristics such as posturing and tone will differ- and the listener will also have a different impression (sole, K. 2011). Communication is also irreversible in that we cannot take back our words once spoken. This is why it is very important to be conscious of what you are saying in moments of anger when you might say something that you may later regret.
The harmonious combination of two different points of view can certainly be viewed as a barrier to effective interpersonal communication because balance between the two is not always achieved. Common communication problems in relationships are assessed as: 1) Silence or refusal to speak; 2) giving into the other person at a cost of self or the relationship (also known as placating); and 3) psychological requests or reports – which is essentially the announcement of a feeling, emotion, or state of being without any commitment to act from the assessment produced an/or speaking without regard for the truth to fulfill a concealed agenda.
Let’s face it – the silent treatment is more often than not a way of inflicting pain on the other person, or to get them as angry or disappointed as you are. Either way, there are no good outcomes possible for effectiveness to be achieved. Giving in to your significant others demands can defuse a negative situation, however, over the long term you can loose who your ‘self’ is and the foundation of the relationship can begin to become eroded. Visions of virtues, what is a good life, beliefs, and what is important for being taken care of can be lost subconsciously without you even knowing it when you give into placating.
The last of the three barriers mentioned is psychological warfare. This could be sabotage born out of feelings of resignation, despair, boredom, resentment, distrust, confusion, being overwhelmed, and skepticism. It is important to try and be a third party observer of your moods because they color your outlook about your relationship and the world over extended periods of time. Moments of perturbation should be discussed with your partner in the moment or soon after so that bottled up aggression does not have the opportunity to morph into something much worse in the future such as ‘playing games’.
As reviewed in chapter three of our classroom text, what you perceive in the world depends on what you pay attention to (Sole, K. 2011). With acceptance of this assertion then it is easier to understand how you organize and interpret what you perceive, and the framework of your emotions take place. Always remember that emotions are specific ungrounded assessments that live in our bodies for only a short period of time as feelings and thoughts. The perception of your partner may differ from your own; in fact, it most likely does because you both have had two different journeys throughout life from birth to the present moment.
It is important to remember that emotions are the result of perturbations of our nervous system and provide automatic and ungrounded assessments about the world because as reviewed earlier, our individual ‘worlds’ are made up of only what we are paying attention to. Some emotions are inherited genetically and some are learned. Emotions though, only tell us how we ‘feel’; not the ‘truth’. With this in mind we can begin to understand then to be careful to know the difference between stating a ‘truth’ to our partner and making an ‘assertion’. With interpersonal relationships it is important to be aware of our emotions and how they affect the people around us, including our significant others.
Non-verbal communication is defined as communication of a message without words, which means that it encompasses a wide range of vocal and visual signs and behaviors (Sole, K. 2011). Throughout your relationship you will express yourself not only with your voice or with a pen, but also with eyes, facial expressions and body posturing. When listening to your significant other it is recommended to be aware of your body posture; the technical term for this is called kinesics. For example, sometimes there is no greater expression of affection for someone than the embrace of a hug or putting your arm around them (Burgoon, Buller, Woodall, 1996).
As time goes on most partners begin to pick up on what the other is thinking without even speaking through non-verbal communication habits. For example, my fiancée figured out that whenever I rub my eye with my index finger by putting pressure in corner of eye, I am in a mood of frustration or anger; and I never realized I did that till she pointed it out to me!
Emotional Intelligence, also known as EI, is a reference to the capacity that someone has to understand, communicate, and manage emotions; and further the ability to understand and respond to the feelings of others (Sole, K. 2011). This is an especially powerful element to successful relationships because it expands the different possibilities for thinking and actions that a couple can take throughout a lifetime together. EI is a reference that someone has a background of listening taking place where future possibilities are being listened to, even while declarations for thinking or acting have taken, or are taking place.
Take the various moods of yourself and your significant other for example. The understanding of moods can help in managing conflicts with one another. Moods color a persons point of view about life for periods of time and have body postures associated with it. If you see your significant other standing with their arms crossed and eyebrows bent while eyes are starring at you like daggers, then you may not need them to say that they are frustrated because you can interpret that with your level of emotional intelligence.
A submission from my own meandering experience on like is to recognize the difference between the things you can, and the things you cannot change in life. Do your best to let go of negative thoughts and change negative interpretations. If your significant other is not able to spend a lot of time with you because of the amount of time you work for example, then instead of ‘getting down’ on it be thankful that you get to end the day with him or her, and that they are ambitious instead of lazy. Another broad suggestion that does not encompass a specific situation would be to stay away from “I” statements. Our text for the class uses a great example for this. Instead of “you make me so angry sometimes” TRY: “I am so angry with you sometimes”. It shows that you are taking ownership for your own emotions and are describing a behavior instead of simply acting on it without thinking the situation through.
The bedrock of effective interpersonal communication is to first know who ‘you’ are. Review and understanding of your self-concept, self-image, self-esteem, and personality will allow for greater spaces for possibility to understand the same elements of your partner.
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