Dear Sara and Tim,
In order to maintain a successful and fulfilling marriage, we all know it takes work from both partners. As you set out on your journey together, it is important to remember that understanding the aspects of interpersonal communication is essential to learning how to effectively communicate with one another. Sara, when you have something you want to discuss with Tim, you want him to really listen and consider your point of view, right? Also, Tim, I know you feel the same way. I would like to offer you both some advice and give you some information that can help guide you in learning how to communicate with each other to the best of your abilities.
To communicate effectively with one another, you must first understand some of the barriers that prevent us from doing so in our interactions. Bevan & Sole (2014) state that, “the fundamental purpose of human communication is to allow people to generate and share their thoughts, feelings, experiences, beliefs, opinions, or really anything they can think to express” (Chapter 1.1). However, there are many types of distractions, called noise, that prevent us from fully sharing these messages with each other. Physical noise is, obviously, external in form, such as a cell phone going off or other conversations around you. This type of distraction can interfere with our concentration on the conversation. I can say from personal experience that when I have an important issue to discuss with my husband, I want to have his full attention. Psychological noise is another distraction that can hinder us from understanding the meaning of a message. “Biases, prejudices, stereotypes, and even extreme emotions such as rage are all examples of
psychological noise” (Bevan & Sole, 2014, chapter 1.2). If we have a certain view or feeling about a situation and are not willing to consider other perspectives, it is not likely that we will communicate effectively. You have to keep an open mind and remember that two people can perceive a situation in completely different ways. These are just two of the types of noises that prevent us from being fully involved in an interaction. My advice to you is to make an effort in recognizing the obstacles that stand in the way of communication, whether they be tangible or intangible. If you can recognize the things that can distract you, it is easier to acknowledge and discard them, allowing for more focused interactions.
It is important to be aware of your self-concept as an individual, but also as you become part of a relationship such as yours. Self-concept is developed and maintained by communication with yourself, as well as others. “You construct this sense of self…by what you tell yourself and what others tell you about yourself. In other words, your self-concept is first externally imposed by others and then internally incorporated in your thoughts, feelings, actions, and communication” (Bevan & Sole, 2014, chapter 2.1). Therefore, it can affect how you perceive yourself, how you view situations, how you deal with them, and even how you communicate. To further explain, let’s say Tim has been told that he has a temper and overreacts to situations. If he chooses to accept this perception of himself, it is likely that this is exactly how he will respond, which goes with the concept of self-fulfilling prophecy in which “you see what you expect to see and hear what you expect to hear” (Bevan & Sole, 2014). This can hinder communication on both sides of the relationship. However, remember that your self-concept can change over time and being aware of it can help you when it comes to your interactions with each other.
It is also very important that you each use emotional intelligence when you communicate with one another. This is how you understand and convey your emotions and also how you recognize and handle your partner’s emotions. According to Keaton & Kelly (2008), “The inter- personal domain [of emotional...
References: Barker, M. (2010). Self-care and relationship conflict. Sexual & Relationship Therapy, 25(1), 37-47. doi:10.1080/14681990903479904.
Bevan, J. L., & Sole, K. (2014). Making connections: Understanding interpersonal communication (2nd ed.). San Diego, CA: Bridgepoint Education, Inc.
Keaten, J., & Kelly, L. (2008). Emotional Intelligence as a Mediator of Family Communication Patterns and Reticence. Communication Reports, 21(2), 104-116. doi:10.1080/08934210802393008
Schoenberg, N. (2011, January 17). Can we talk? McClatchy-Tribune News Service. Retrieved from http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2011-01-14/features/sc-fam-0111-talk-relationship-20110111_1_happy-marriages-couples-marital-therapy.
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