The definition of communication: the act or process of imparting thoughts, opinions, or information by speech, writing, or signs.

Once I decided to write on this topic, which I felt is of great importance to every aspect of our lives, I thought the actual definition would be a great place to start. Maybe the reason there is so much miscommunication or sometimes no communication is that people just don’t understand the true meaning of the word. Although, when I looked it up it seems fairly simple. Why is it that we are unable to get our thoughts across effectively and let others know what we are thinking and say what’s on our mind and give others the information needed?

I can only imagine the problems that could be solved (or avoided) if a husband and wife actually shared what they felt or thought instead of letting it bottle up inside. What if an employer communicated exactly what he/she expected and in return the employee felt comfortable engaging in an open dialog. Young people today need to feel comfortable communicating their feelings of anger, loneliness, and of being unloved to an adult who is willing to listen. So much of what we experience in life needs to be communicated. Imagine all the relationships that could be improved with better communication. As a society, we continue to suffer because we cannot improve these skills, to recognize our weaknesses and learn from our mistakes.

I can almost hear my daughters saying “mom you never listen!” I was so busy trying to get them to listen to me that I never realized I wasn’t listening to them. This just created frustration on both ends and usually ended with one or all three of us stomping off to our respective rooms and not-a-few slammed doors. The key is not to simply be right but to listen to what the other person is saying even if they do need to clean their rooms or be home by curfew.

Recently, I started seeing a guy I met online. I thought everything was going along really well. We texted, spoke on the phone, had a few dates all ending with him asking me when we could see each other again. I noticed after several weeks, he stopped saying anything about when we would next get together. He would find a small window of time for us, but then end the date by saying “talk to you soon”. This was becoming frustrating for me. All signs during the date were positive but while he still seemed interested, he never initiated another time to see me. This was a change from how we had begun. I felt there was no communication from his end. In fact, I felt he was giving me mixed signals. This went on for several more weeks until I felt like I had to be honest and say something. I can be a little blunt at times so I asked him if he simply wanted a friend to hang out with periodically, or was he looking for someone to date. Apparently, I hit a nerve. He told me that a few things had spooked him like us being Facebook “friends” as well as me inviting him to a get together where my kids would be present. So he backed off. I immediately said all it would have taken from him was communication and letting me know he was uncomfortable with this or that.

For anyone that knows me, I am an open book. I will invite you over to a party, meet my family, share stories about my life, have you over to my home to hang out and probably friend you on Facebook as well. So for me this was not a huge deal but for him it was a relationship step he wasn’t ready for. Looking back, I could have voiced my concerns earlier and maybe realized not everyone wants to meet my family or share theirs.

The lesson is that we have to be understanding of others limitations and not be so focused on our own. We must try to be honest and open with our needs and not defensive if the other person doesn’t share those same things or thinks the same way you do. Maybe it would have been okay for me to let my daughters live in a messy bedroom as long as both our needs were met. “I can’t see or smell your mess and you can’t complain when you don’t have clean clothes to wear to school.” And maybe if we are more open with what we need in the beginning of any and all relationships, we would be better equipped to know if that is the right place for us to be or person to be with.

In the end I believe all anyone wants is to be heard and understood. If we stop and listen to what the other person has to say without speaking, maybe just maybe our world would be a more harmonious place to exist.

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