I just noticed that it’s been a while since I wrote a blog entry on communication. I’ve also noticed that I’ve been postponing my goal to publish articles in english and german. And because I’ve decided that today is my „I will finally do that“ day, this is my first article in german and english. Tada!
Communication is not equal to talking
I think that first of all it can be very helpful to define communication as something more extensive then talking. If talking is the only method of choice, my possibilities are limited. At some point many people encounter their limits. How can we continue? How else can communication look like in conflicts? writing, writing, writing…I think that there is no better thing in conflicts than writing. I differentiate between two difference forms:
- Writing for myself
- Writing for others
It sounds pretty mundane, but the difference is very important. When I write for myself I usually do so while thinking that no one will ever read those lines. Sometimes I do that when I’m really angry and I wanna give my anger some space. I feels like a relieve and I don’t hurt anyone by doing that. At the same time I manage to take my anger seriously. When I write for others I think twice or even three times if that is really what I want to say and I choose my words carefully. Thinking about what I want to write helps me to realize what I feel and how I feel about certain things. It also helps other people to understand how I feel without putting them under pressure because I might be sitting next to them, starring and waiting for their answer – which could be an awkward situation for everyone. Sometimes it can also be helpful to have a little book together and write each other letters. In Addition you could also mark each text with small symbols that would mean different things. For example there could be a symbol that says „Please read it and acknowledge my thoughts“ or „Please read it and answer in the book“ or „Please read it and let’s try to make some time for talking“. Communication can be tricky here. Everything could be understood the wrong way and each word can be interpreted the way it was not intended. That’s way I would like to mention my article on definitions again (which by the way is not available in English right now, but I’m working on it! ;))
What does it mean? In my opinion most conflicts develop because people have different goals when they communicate with each other. The other day I was suddenly completely annoyed when someone started to give me some advice in a conversation. It was only then I’ve realized that I actually just wanted to share a situation without wanting to hear the other persons opinion on it. It might be a chance to prevent a conflict from happening by clarifying ones goals in the beginning of the conversation. The same strategy can be also helpful when you are already in a conflict. What is our goal? What do we want to work on? What is todays goal? Is it about our feeling or are we trying to talk about some ideas how to solve the conflict? To give each others feeling some space can be super important and also helpful since I might be the only person who knows how I feel right now. It can also be helpful to separate the talk about feeling from the one about ideas how to solve a conflicts. It might be a possibly to give each other enough space for both.
Different relationship stages mean different communication
When relationships change communication does, too. Sounds logical on the first glance but in reality this issue rarely gets some acknowledgment. The great Kathy Labriola was talking about the stages of communication a while ago in one of her speeches. There she differentiates between 4 different stages:
1. honey moon/New Relationship Energy
communication seems easy at that point because in the beginning of most relationships there is a lot of excitement and curiosity when people are in love. People seem to be on the same page about every single issue.
2. rude awakening
In this stage we have serious discussions for the first time. The relationship doesn’t seem to work magically. Emotional labor usually becomes a subject for the first time here.
3. grow up or break up
In this stage Kathy Labriola is writing about the advantages of break ups as people might be realizing that they have different understandings of relationships. Breaking up is in her opinion a good and very wise decision sometimes. In her speech she also mentions that it can be super exciting to have love affairs but it’s nicer to become partners in life. (I think that it’s a bit difficult to make that kind of assumptions since there are also people who don’t like to be in longterm relationships). The exciting emotions of falling in love don’t last forever, so at the end every relationship has to face the decision in which direction they want to continue.
4. living in love
In her last stage she describes a relationship that went through some mager conflicts and gained some confidence on handling conflicts in their relationship. There will always be conflicts but they are confident that those conflicts are small enough and manageable enough that they will work something out. Kathy Labriola describes a stage where in her opinion many people either decided to live together or they share many aspects of their lives. They have to talk about many small things during their daily live and communication has to change aswell. She describes that at this stage many partners think that they now their partners so well that they don’t need to listen anymore and take things for granted and new conflicts arise at this point.
I think that different people can experience the 4 stages differently. Some may change from the first to the second stage within a few weeks while others might be enjoying feeling light and in love for a whole year. That’s why I think it is useful to tell our partners in which of the 4 stages we would consider ourselves. It can revile the nature of some conflicts and maybe also surprise you when you ask your partner(s) about their current stage 😉