Communication is a Funny Thing
by Michael Garner, M.A., LMFT
It is funny how we might have a ‘good idea’ of how to do something, but not do well when it comes to application and putting it into practice. One couple who had a very good definition of communication went right into a pretty intense argument within just a few minutes of articulating how to communicate well. Nearly everyone I come in contact with, including my own conversations at home and growing up have some very similar patterns. I hear a lot of blame, criticism, hurtful words, defensiveness, and even complete shut down at times. Emotions can run wild during conversations that contain anything other than basic inquiries or pleasantries. Emotions often get in the way and distort the initial point of the conversation to begin with.
Although most couples say listening is important, I see most of us (I am guilty of this at times as well) listen so that we can come up with some sort of response. Why do we do this? Do we want to be right, make the other person recoil as hurtful words are being hurled their way? Do we want to show how funny we can be with a sarcastic or quick witted answer?
Instead of listening to respond or listening to win an argument, why can’t we listen to understand? I have talked to countless wives and mothers who simply want to know that their husband or child hears them and understands their perspective. I talk to husbands who are so tired of the critical and harsh words and simply want their wives to respect their point of view (respect does not mean agree). I have come to understand most of us are OK with disagreeing and seeing things differently, as long as we feel the other person truly understands us. It is then, and only then that the conversation can go to the next level to figure out how to proceed.
My challenge for you is pay attention to how often you ‘listen to respond’ and begin to ‘listen to understand’. This one small step will revolutionize your communication. Stop, listen to key words, pay attention to the emotional driving force behind their words and restate what you heard the other person just say. Slow down, step back, and watch the conversation change right before your eyes.
Michael Garner MA, LMFT
is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT) as well as a Distance Credentialed Counselor (DCC). The Distance Credentialed Counselor identifies professional counselors who are specifically trained in delivering traditional counseling through technological means including video chat and more. Michael earned his Master of Arts in Professional Counseling from Liberty University and his Bachelor’s degree from Southeastern University.Read More
The One Thing Necessary for Couples to Make It by Olatunde Howard, MA, LMFT I love working with couples. It’s an honor for me to share in their world for a little less than an hour. They can be fun to watch and listen to. It can also be torturous, depending on the...
For real. Like, when you go into an office, room, or place, do you leave feeling…agitated? But can’t quite put your finger on why? Then later you think, “It was the vibe of the place. That’s what it was!” And after you think about what the vibe was, it dawns on you.
I’ve noticed that some clients think therapists are magicians and that therapy is magic. And if the magic doesn’t kick in after one or two sessions (3 tops!), then therapy isn’t working. Now the thing is, therapy can begin to “work” after one or two sessions, depending on the client and the presenting problem. It may even work after one session, and this is where therapy can be magical–if we understand what the magic really is.