Learning the skills of good communication cannot be overstated especially as most people focus attention on loved ones as Valentine’s Day begins to loom once again. Communication can be comforting, but also has the potential to cause hurt.
Disagreements, bitter exchanges, the sense of feeling ignored, little misunderstandings – all can be ironed out, but each person involved needs first to pay attention, allow themselves to listen,and be heard.
Elaine Fantle Shimberg the author of Growing Up Jewish in Small Town America: A Memoir says it’s important to connect, be fully present, and remove distractions. “Put down the cell phone and look at each other! We’ve lost the skill of eye contact. Our eyes speak volumes,!” she advises.
Robin Siebold, Ph. D. author of To Divorce or Not: Reflections of the Self agrees communication is the number one relationship issue. “Most of us need to listen twice as much as we talk. That is why we have two ears and one mouth People like to talk about themselves and they feel special when someone listens and acts interested in what they are saying,” she said in an e-mail interview.
But what options do those individuals who are not good listeners or talkers have to foster clear communication and intimacy?
Dr. Siebold affirms engaging in dance is part of the puzzle. “My all time favorite for couples to develop intimacy is dancing. On the dance floor men lead, and women follow; men are the frame and women are the picture. There is an ebb and flow of tension with the dance position that is similar to a relationship. If you have a power struggle going on it will show up in the dance floor. Good dance teachers can usually tell how well a relationship is going by the way couples dance with each other. When I was single, one of my "tests" for men was if they could lead me around the dance floor. I like to back lead and I need a strong man in my life,” she said.
It’s also been said that effective communication requires tact and it’s important to keep conversations moving along on the positive side.
Jill Spiegel, author of How To Talk To Anyone About Anything! said advice givers in particular should be handled delicately in order to keep the dialogue flowing productively. Spiegel offers the following scenario to illustrate:
“Your cousin approaches at a family party you and says, “Your daughter would look so darling with shorter hair. She has the same shaped face as my daughter. You should try our salon.” We all know relatives who give us advice that we didn’t ask for or agree with. If we respond by explaining why their suggestion won’t work we disconnect and create tension. People give advice to feel knowledgeable and helpful. You make them feel helpful and create positive connections through appreciation and diplomacy. “Thanks for your idea. I’ll give that some thought,” she wrote.
Have you ever come across friends or family members who attempt to compete with you and use bragging as a tool to do so? Spiegel says there is a careful approach to turning them around rather than alienating which most of us might be prone to do.
The scenario that follows demonstrates a smart exchange in response to a braggart.
“Your neighbor sees you outside and remarks, “My husband bought me a huge diamond ring for Valentine’s Day! ” When people brag we often feel the need to compete or “top them” which creates disconnection. They brag to feel successful. You celebrate everyone’s success and instantly create a warm connection, “That’s so exciting. Cheers to romance!” Spiegel said..