My name is Tralisa King and I am writing to inform you that I have received your letter and would first, like to congratulate and wish you, both well in your new ventures as a family in Holy matrimony. I understand that you would like my advice on producing a long – lasting and happy relationship. I do feel the need to advise you, that I am not a relationship therapist by any means. However, as you both are aware, I have taken a course in interpersonal communication and would be more than happy to provide you with as much knowledge as possible that I have obtained from this course. I hope that based on what I have learned in class, the articles I have read, and my personal experiences you will find some of my advice to be informative or at least gain enough interpersonal communication skills needed to resolve any issues that may arise in your relationships in the future.
“Communication is not simply the exchange of words and information; it is the means through which we share knowledge, thoughts, ideas, and feelings with other people. Interpersonal communication is the way people connect with other people.” (Sole, 2011) Learning to communicate effectively can and most likely will be the foundation, you both will need in order to develop, maintain and/or keep a productive, calm, and strong relationship and/or marriage. Communication is a skill that is never perfected, I have been married for over twenty years and if it had not been for the grace of God and learning to build our marriage on the foundation of communication, I do not think our marriage would have lasted. Although we have found a way to communicate, communication remains a work in progress and there are times when our communication is not up to par. Recognizing how words have the power to create and affect attitudes, behavior, and perception:
Words are very powerful and if not used correctly can cause a physical as well as a mental drain upon one’s marriage. Words have a way of bringing out the best and/or the worst in a person. Even the Bible speaks of the power of words in several passages throughout the scriptures. . Sometimes it is not the word alone, it can be the way in which the word is represented that can bring out the best and/or worst in people. The word Ni—r for example, although I am a black female, I do not use this word nor do I allow it to be used in my presence without addressing my disapproval of the word. I have never based my life on what others say, think or feel about me.
However, I would be lying to myself if I did not admit that there are still things including certain words that create an immediate emotional and/ or physical reaction if approached to me incorrectly. My children on the other hand, use this word relentlessly while speaking with their friends but are ready to fight at the drop of a dime if called that of a Caucasian person. There are females that get offended by the word B—ch, however this is a word that does not offended me regardless of the presentation, not saying that it shouldn’t offend me; I’m just saying it don’t..
I remember as a child, when being teased by someone, my parents would say, “words never hurt anyone.” However, todays’ bullying is proving that words can kill. Words and the way in which we use them can have an effect on others behavior, attitude, and perception of not only you but also themselves. “Negative connotations often act as triggers to derail your interpersonal communication. We all have trigger word’s that create an immediate emotional reaction when we hear them” (Sole 2011)
By understanding the power of one’s words and learning away to use, those without offending the other can help to defuse any argument, misunderstanding or anything else that would eventually lead to hatred or possibility of divorce. Remember, one can apologize for the words they say but they cannot take it back; and being forgiven by your partner does not mean that your partner will forget.
Listening -develop strategies for active, critical, and empathic listening-Perceptions, Emotions, and Nonverbal Communication
One is generally born with some sort of interpersonal communication, such as a baby crying. Generally, a baby crying is their way of letting one know that they are displaying some type of discomfort. After a while, one’s way of listening allows them to decipher that baby’s cry, understand their need and/or discomfort and act accordingly. A baby also uses non-communication, such as responding to a familiar voice or sound, which they often associate with care such as food, warmth, or a touch perhaps. This is also true in a marriage, the longer you are married the more nonverbal communication, and you are likely to develop. “Nonverbal communication is defined as the communication of a message without words; which means that it encompasses a wide range of vocal and visual signs and behaviors” (Sole, 2011)
I am famous for rolling my eyes, walking off, or simply giving a person a blank stare when I don’t agree with them or simply just not wanting to be bothered. Misunderstanding is often due to one’s body language; although my body language often is a response to the situation at hand, this is not necessarily true for my husband. My husband has an annoying habit of sucking his teeth sarcastically when he does not agree, he does this so much, that at times I am not sure he notice he is doing it. Tammy it is important to decipher your husband’s intent of his body movement; because we as women have, the tendency of jumping into conclusion and like my husband it could be a simple habit, vice versa for you Bill.
It is also important that the two of you develop an effective strategy for active, critical, and empathic listening. “Researchers report that most of us spend more time listening than we do talking; however, most people have had little education on how to be an effective listener, which requires focus and attention.” (Sole, 2011) While most people think they are fairly good listeners, studies show that the majority of people listen poorly and inefficiently (Lee & Hatesohl, 1993) (Sole, 2011) Mr. and Mrs. Jones I have learned that, how one listens can and most likely will have an impact upon the way in which one communicates. At the same time, how well one listens’ can have an impact on the sincere qualities they develop in their marriage and/or relationship with others. It is the failure to listen that causes a lot of mis-communication and is one of the main factors of many divorces.
I also have learned in my studies how to distinguish four types in the way in which one listens. The first is comprehension listening, which is listening to obtain some type of knowledge, more likely to be done in a meeting, seminar, or group of discussion (classroom environment of some sort). The second type is evaluative listening; this is listening to someone who is trying to pre-sway another in complying with his or her thoughts, ideas and/or opinions. “In these conversations, it is important that you listen for the speaker’s main points and determine their strengths and weaknesses so that you can formulate an effective response such as countering the arguments or presenting important points that the speaker may not have included.” (Sole, 2011). Although this is good in some cases, I do not suggest you use this type of listening when it comes to communicating with each other because it may make the other feel attacked, which they will feel the need to defend themselves or cause them to become withdrawn when communicating.
The third type of listening is empathic listening, which I highly recommend for the two of you. This is something my husband and I practice a lot it allows us to connect and gives us a better understanding of each other’s thoughts without judgment for the most part… Last but not least , appreciative listening, I recommend this also because is show that you are interested in each other and interested in what each other have to say. Not only did I learn four types of listening, I also learned that there is a process that “requires six distinct components” (Sole, 2011) when it comes to listening, which are: “Motivating oneself to listen” (Sole, 2011) – This entails keeping an open mind, being attentive at all times, being aware of the nonverbal communication such as movements, eye contact, facial expression or anything else that is accompanied with the discussion at hand. “Clearly Hearing the Message” (Sole, 2011) – Make sure you can clearly hear what the person is saying and try to eliminate any noise that may be a distraction to you at that time.
“Paying Attention” (Sole, 2011) – try not to speak while the other is talking and focus on what the person is saying rather than focusing on your response. “Interpreting the Message” – “To correctly interpret a message, you must know what the symbols mean to the person who is using them, and we all interpret symbols differently.” (Sole, 2011) I believe this is more of a written message than it is for a fact to face conversation… “Evaluating the Message” – “When you have heard and attended to a message and then interpreted it, you must then decide what you think or feel about that information. The results of this evaluation usually determine how you will respond.” (Sole, 2011)
On a personal note, I am not sure how one can do this and remain attentive to the discussion because it would seem that one would be more focus on the response than they would the conversation. “Remembering and responding Appropriate” – This should happen at the end of the discussion once the speaker has finished expressing himself or herself. At this time the other should ask any question necessary to get a complete understanding, it is important to never assume anything because the inaccurate assumption is a sure way to bring confusion into your relationship. Once you have established the skill of effective listening, it becomes a little easier to solve and/or avoid communication problems. Trust and self-disclosure
Trust is another key element in one’s marriage. In order to build trust one must be willing to expose oneself to self- disclosure. I recently did a report in my class on an article “Can We Talk?” by Nara Schoenberg, which spoke about the importance of communication. In my report, I spoke of trust and self – disclosure. I stated, “I do believe that finding new ways to communicate can help to develop a stronger relationship. I also believe that the quality, as well as the quantity of communication is the foundation in which a relationship is built on. One also needs truth and understanding.
Knowing that the discussion one is having is based on pure truth is of great importance; being dishonest to spare another’s feelings or to cover up something is just as bad as not speaking at all. One must also have an open mind when conversing, being able to understand the difference of opinion and not focusing on who is wrong or right helps to establish a common ground and growth. With all this being said, I do agree that sharing one’s feelings, fears, doubts and perceptions can help to build a healthy and happy relationship of any kind. At the same time, it can also be dangerous placing this much information or trust in someone that may because you harm… Self- disclosure increases trust within the relationship because it provides “understanding of your inner thoughts and feelings will significantly impact how you see others, especially with your spouse, who will increase your ability to share your innermost feelings. (Sole, 2011).
However, I feel the need to advise you that I feel one must have complete trust with the other before taking this step. My marriage did not have this in the beginning, it took a little time for us to build this type of trust in each other because this consist of sharing one’s private feelings and sometimes secretes that only you know about yourself.
Once these feelings and secrets are exposed to the other, it leaves you vulnerable which depending on your partners’ intent could either bring you people closer or tear you apart. Do not get me wrong it was not that I did not trust my husband in the begging, I honestly felt uncomfortable with being vulnerable to anyone including him. Having said this, if you genuinely love each other, there is a strong possibility that you will begin sharing things you would never have shared before without giving it a second thought.
The discrepancy I had with the article was Orbuch’s advice was to “consider setting aside 10 minutes a day for quality conversations.” (Schoenberg, N. 2011, January 17). This suggestion may be good for couples that have been away from each other or if someone in the relationship had an event that has happened to them that, they would like to share with their spouse. However, I work at home and my husband does as well because of this, we are together for the majority of the day and although we love each other’s company, there are times we just like to share our time together in complete silence or talking about things that has no value, like a TV show or trashing talking while playing pool.
Most importantly there are times we just want to be left alone. Whatever the case may be, I feel that this approach varies depending upon the couple, the environment and/or the situation. I stated in that report, “In order to have the type of communication that the article speaks of, one must first have a full understanding of consistent quality communication because there are many ways one can define quality communication; there will never be a sure conclusion or a quick fix when it comes to communicating within a relationship.” (King 2012) Had I been talking to my sister or husband they would have understood this concept in depth. Due to the fact I was speaking in general my teacher advised me “I failed to include supporting details or examples to bring validity to my claim.” (Miller, 2012) In which I feel she was 100% right.
However, this proves that one’s approach varies depending upon the environment and/or the situation. Regardless of the impact or lack of this article had on me, I do recommend that the both of you read this article and share your thoughts it may have a different outcome, and give you a better insight on the importance of self-disclosure. Other articles I think can be beneficial in your marriage are; “Shared Talking Styles Herald New and Lasting Romance” (Bower, 2010) “speaks about conversation and the impact it has or can have in one’s relationship and/ or friendship. The article talks about a variety of studies done such as speed dating…. Within that experiment, they found that” (King 2012) “opposite – sex are more likely to express mutual interest when using similar speaking styles than those who differ.” (Bower, 2010)“
Another study showed that young couples in a committed relationship, whom used similar writing styles during 10 days of instant – messaging chats, we’re likely to stay together.” (Bower, 2010) and the article, “Close Relationships Sometimes Mask Poor Communication” (Health Day News 2011) show how one’s communication with others, lack of communicational skills. This article speaks of a study done on married couples that explored the amount of mis-communication or lack of communication one may have in their relationship. Although the researchers pointed out some valuable information they gained from their studies, they left much to be questioned when it comes to communication in one’s marriage.
Identify the barriers to effective interpersonal interactions…
Interpersonal communication barriers compose a negative impact in our everyday life on the way we interact with others; rather it is in our jobs, with our friends or our family life. Reason being, we are all different therefore we all have different personalities, emotions, our priorities differ as well as our emotions.
It is difficult to identify all the things that create Interpersonal communication barriers, however, I believe that the root of the problem when entering or within a marriage consist of personal emotions, lack of desire to participate and/or explore in conversation.
Emotional barriers in a marriage are the hardest thing to conquer. This is because one’s feeling and/or emotions are more likely the ultimate way in which one bases their decision. The problem with this is one’s feeling and/or emotions are comprised of the things that surround us, such as little sleep, anxiety, problems at work, or just generally having a bad day. That one bad day can lead to a bad decision or unintentionally building barriers to protect our feelings and /or emotions. Working on improving your interpersonal skills will allow you to identify each other’s barrier. Once you are able to identify the barrier of your significant other, approach them with it by asking questions to find the cause of the barrier.
In a relationship, it is important to break the barriers as soon as possible. The two other barriers you will want to avoid in your relationship lack of desire to participate and/or explore in conversation. The fastest way to ignite an argument and possible build permanent barriers between one another is when one is trying to communicate with the other and your partner is clearly not interested in what you have to say; one not being willing to explore is the other. The unwillingness to acknowledge the possibility of your spouse ideas, opinions, and priorities can cause them to feel belittled and guarded. Keep in mind this is what you are trying to avoid…
Remember, there is no permanent solution in obtaining a perfect marriage but as all things in life, a successful marriage requires patients, self-control, and determination and the more you practice the easier it becomes.