We Just Don’t Communicate

Now, to start with, the above heading is not true! Everyone communicates – some communicate poorly but everyone does communicate.

Not only that but everyone knows how to communicate. Have you ever heard of a couple marrying because they couldn’t communicate?

So what has happened? Counselors and educators have made a fairly simple process complicated! We have converted an understandable four letter word into a complicated eleven letter word. We used to TALK now we don’t COMMUNICATE.

A few years ago there was a cartoon showing two characters trying to use modern communication skills and still failing to connect. But they persevered and the closing caption read “How do couples last without these modern communication techniques?”

How then do we reclaim the ancient art of talking together?

  • Let me suggest that before attempting dialogue you both practice monologue. To do this set aside ten minutes each day and each take five minutes talking. Sit facing each other, with no distractions. One shares for five minutes and the other listens without interrupting. Then change roles. Once you are able to fully share and fully listen in this way then you can begin to discuss.
  • Explain with good “I” language what you are thinking, feeling and wanting and don’t tell your partner what he is or should be thinking, feeling or wanting.
  • Limit your discussion to no more than 30 minutes. – set an egg-timer where you can’t see it. Pick up the conversation, if it is important, 24 hours later. More can be accomplished by successive 20-30 minute sharing with 24 hour gaps than long 2-3 hour marathons.
  • Avoid distractions like trying to discuss something while watching the tv. Even eating a meal can detract from good conversation.
  • If talking doesn’t work very well then try something else like writing to each other.

What about all those books and workshops on communication skills? Well, you decide – but remember when you were a child you knew how to talk with other children and when you first met your present partner you knew how to talk and listen to each other. So don’t worry so much about communicating and just talk and listen to each other like friends.

How do we become friends? Read my article “How to Create a Playful Relationship."