Communication is one of those terms that come up often for me, especially when I get an inquiry from a couple. Usually, “communication” is somewhere in the initial email. But what is communication exactly, and why do so many of us have issues with it? The goal of this blog post is to address that and more.
Communication is what we do to tell someone something. We often do this with our words, but we do it with our nonverbal cues as well. It can be a terrifying experience to communicate because it tends to start arguments or trigger negative responses. My goal as the therapist is to help people figure out a communication style that works well.
Why communication is an issue
Common reasons I come across are that people are not honest about their wants/ needs, people will downright disregard their needs, which may backfire in the long run, or my favorite, people just do not communicate at all. People will often not even speak about the things they are thinking or feeling, making things much more challenging when working within a relationship.
Most of us may not have been explicitly taught how to communicate effectively. Some of us may have grown up seeing the passive-aggressive style of communication or a great deal of shutting down instead of active, healthy communication. Even if you may have been exposed to excellent communication from a young age, it is up to us individually to continue practicing it and adapting to our situations and relationships.
What can I do about my communication?
One thing that someone can do is to get clear on what they want/need. I often encourage my clients to highlight these desires in some exercises that I may start in session and ask them to complete at home. If you aren’t clear on what you want, it will be much more challenging to have someone to comply.
Another way to improve communication is to use “I- statements.” If someone would say: “Roma, you never blog when you say you will, and you always are late to sessions and show up negative,” that would make me pretty defensive, I’m sure. However, if that same person would say: “Roma, I would feel better about coming to you if you blogged more, and I would appreciate it if you would come to sessions on time and in better moods,” chances are, I would be a bit more willing to comply and hear them out. The difference in those statements was accusatory, which made me feel like I needed to defend myself, while the other wasn’t about me, and what I do wrong. Instead, it was about what the other person wanted and needed from me to continue our relationship.
Often, this topic is loaded! And many of us need work on this area of communication and how to do so effectively. Learning communication skills is something that could be worked towards in our couples and individual sessions. Contact us today to get started on your journey towards better communication!
About the Author
Roma Williams is a Houston-based licensed marriage and family therapist, who is also licensed in the states of Georgia, Florida, and California. Her specialties and clinical interests are systems and relationships. Roma enjoys working with couples, including LGBTQ+ and those who live in polyamorous relationships. As an African American woman, Roma has donated time and efforts to causes championing black women and mental health. Roma also enjoys working with individuals on their relationships with themselves and others. Being a California native, and moving to the south in her adult years, Roma has had plenty of experiences that have shaped her cultural development both professionally and personally. In her spare time, Roma enjoys fashion, all things wine, and traveling.
If you are in Houston or in any part of Texas, Georgia, Florida, or California and are ready to work with Roma click here.