Saturday, February 24, 2007

Effective Communication

The Seventh Key Principle: Communication

The seventh and final key principle that all successful relationships exhibit is the art of good communication. Communication is sharing verbally and non verbally so that the message is accepted and understood by your partner. Communication is not always agreement, rather it is talking plus listening and understanding.

Communication has been broken down into three components; content, tone and non verbal. Seven percent of communication is content, thirty eighty percent is tone, and fifty five percent is non verbal. Most of us would assume the content is the most important component when in reality, the non verbal messages are by far the principle ingredient.

Communication is a skill that can be learnt. The best way to learn this is to practice what is called the 'SRA' exercise. 'S' stands for statement, 'R' stands for restatement, and 'A' represents Agreement. The exercise begins with one of the parties making a clear and concise statement, while the other partner listens. Once the first party has finished, the listener reports back what they think they have heard. If it is not correct, the first person repeats their statement until the other has clearly received their message. Then the listener, finds some agreement within what is said. Perhaps all they can agree to is that that is how their partner feels. Perhaps they can agree to all that is expressed. The exercise is designed to build places of agreement so that the relationship can get back on course.

After the first partner has spoken, you change sides, and the other begins with a statement, while their partner listens, then reports back and then finds some point of agreement.

The hard part of communication is delivering anger and conflict. In order to handle conflict effectively couples need to establish ground rules for fair fighting. Such rules include taking time outs when emotions get too hot. Another rule could be always speak in "I" messages as opposed to "You" messages. "I" messages are statements about how "I" feel, while "You" messages are accusative and judgmental about the other. Good communicators learn how to create and develop grounds rules for conflict and abide by these ground rules whenever conflict and anger is present in communication.

Good communication is also enhanced with a clearing process. Clearing processes are scheduled appointments when couples agree to communicate about topics that they would rather not address. These times should be scheduled approximately once or twice a month. Begin by asking and answering the following questions. "What undelivered communications do I have with you?". "What hasn't been said that needs to be said?". "What do I want to be acknowledged for?". Scheduling times when you talk about what is difficult to talk about keeps the relationship healthy and open. Communication breakdowns usually occur from what hasn't been said, more often that what has been said. It is important to keep communication open, free, and healthy, and the clearing process will ensure that happens.

All successful relationships have these seven key principles. Good communication is perhaps the hardest and most important predictor of a long, lasting relationship.

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