By: Tyler Purdy, LCSW
Communication is a key to life. We communicate for work, in families, at school, in all aspects of our lives. Now, I could start spouting off some statistics like communication is both verbal and nonverbal and that within these two types, verbal communication makes up 45% of all that is communicated (7% with words; 38% with tone of voice) while nonverbal composes the remaining 55% (such as body language). Or that first impressions are typically made in the first 2 minutes of meeting someone. But does knowing that really make someone better at communicating? Maybe a little, but what communication truly needs is to be honest, sincere and genuine because that is what a healthy, safe, and secure relationship contains and that comes about because of honest, sincere, and genuine communication. See how it just circles itself?
I look back at when I was dating my yet-to-be wife. It was easy to talk about the small things or what we shared in common. What was more difficult was the underlying concerns and fears that we had about marriage and our own relationship traumas from the past that kept getting in the way; but we never wanted to face. It also probably didn’t help that for 8 months of our engagement, we could only Skype each other due to our work schedules. That changed one summer night, when we went for a walk and had “The Talk” (that’s how we refer to it now and also laugh about) about our relationship and where it was lacking and how there was a disconnect in communicating our true feelings/wants/desires/needs. It was a very frank conversation but also totally sincere, honest and genuine. By no means the easiest conversation and as I reflect on it, the point is not lost to me that it was needed. From that talk, my wife and I have developed the greatest relationship where hopes, dreams and goals as well as fears, worries, and anxieties are openly discussed and acknowledged. I can talk to her about the fears I have of being a first time dad and all that that entails (which is coming up way too quick!!!). Or even simply how my day went, without feeling the need to hide if it was crummy. I feel so much more love and respect for her as well as complete sense of total trust and attachment to her because of our communication with one another.
It is never too late to start communicating in a more genuine, sincere or honest way. This will definitely help when there is already a level of security and belonging in a relationship; be it platonic, familial, or romantic. I would encourage you as this New Year starts, to look at the ways you personally communicate with your spouse, children, friends, even parents and see if there isn’t some room to improve. I’m willing to bet that as you demonstrate a more sincere, honest, and genuine form of communication that it will be reciprocated back. Maybe not immediately but eventually.