As a therapist of over 30 years, I have seen many couples in my practice. The first thing I ask both members of a couple is what their goals are for counseling, and 90% of all couples say that communication is their number one goal. Then I tell the couple how real communication happens:
- Both partners need to be fully present and not doing anything else.
- Both partners have to be willing to connect to their own Inner Knowing or Inner truth. What this means, is that both partners need to connect to themselves and be aware of and be willing to own their feelings, their thoughts, perceptions, hopes, dreams, desires, history, etc.
- Both partners have to be willing to speak from the “I” and again own what they are saying.
And, I must say that at least 50 %of the couples I see have trouble with this type of communication.
Here is what Real communication is not:
- We cannot communicate about things that are really important while we are doing anything else. Perhaps we can do information sharing but this is not communication. We have all heard that a large percentage of communication is non-verbal. So, we need to be seated (ideally) by the person we are communicating with so we can see, hear, feel and perceive all the non-verbal ways of communicating that we miss if we have a dual focus. Also, it is very easy to say things to someone else via a “screen”, especially mean things that we would never say face to face.
- We cannot communicate about things that are really important while telling the other person what they have done wrong or what is wrong with them. When we want to communicate in the right way, we need to take responsibility for how we feel. Now certainly, humans do horrible things to one another and sometimes, we really are a victim to another’s actions. And, I am not talking about these cases. I am talking about how to have a good relationship with someone by learning to communicate in a way that will maximize the possibility that the other will hear us. When two humans are willing to connect to their own Inner Knowing, (their truth, perceptions, feelings, etc) and then set a boundary so they stay connected to their own truth and speak from the “I”, miracles can result.
When we choose to communicate in any other way, I call that “fake communication”. Information may be shared but if both parties are not willing to connect with their own truth and speak to the other knowing that they are “equal”, then real communication has not occurred.