All Articles Tagged "communication"
“We don’t even talk anymore. We don’t even know what we argue about.” Remember those iconic words from one of Boyz II Men’s most memorable breakup songs? If you do, we’re sorry for getting that stuck in your head (singing along to it a few times might help).
If you don’t remember the song, those words probably still ring true. When things are going wrong in a relationship, communication issues are usually the first ones to rear their ugly head. And sometimes it’s not a lack of communication but a poor choice of words — a very, very poor choice as some of these examples below will illustrate.
If you catch your man uttering one of these phrases in the near future you better nip it — and possibly him and the entire relationship — in the bud ASAP.
Over the years I’ve seen therapists here and there, and one of the first questions they always ask me is, “Are you in a relationship?” If my answer was yes, then their follow-up question has always been, “Do you feel that you can talk to your partner about anything if you need to?” (I think part of the reason they ask this is to make sure you have somebody at home to pick up the slack in between your therapy appointments or when your therapist can’t answer her phone). I have always answered yes, but looking back I realize, I really couldn’t talk to all my partners about anything.
When you finally meet that person that you can be open with, you realize just how much you were holding back from partners in the past. And being able to talk to your partner about anything is critical, not just for the happiness of the couple, but for your own mental and even physical health. So can you actually talk to your partner about anything? Let’s see.
How well do you know your mom? Most of us would say we know our moms pretty well. Maybe we know her favorite color, flower, dessert or music. We probably know who her friends are, what she likes to make for Thanksgiving dinner, whether she prefers high heels or flats. But what about her nickname when she was in grade school? Or the most important influence on her decision to become a doctor? Or the reason she was so dedicated to volunteering at the local meal program for so many years?
Kevin King of Big Bend, Wisconsin didn’t think about asking the “hard” questions until his mom had suffered a stroke and had memory loss and confusion, and those conversations were not really possible anymore. “I realized the time with my mom was precious and I didn’t know all the things I wanted to know about her,” said King. “She wasn’t one to talk about herself, she always turned the conversation back around to you, and with the memory issues, the conversation never quite got as deep as I hoped or would have liked,” he continued. King shared that when he and his four siblings had to put together her funeral service, “we struggled to create something meaningful and personal to her. We knew the little things but wondered if there was more we should have included. It was a beautiful service, but even today, we cannot help but wonder ‘was it what she would have wanted and did it reflect what mattered most to her?’ If only we had known more about her wishes, hopes and dreams.”
Like King, many of us don’t think about asking those kinds of questions until perhaps an illness or the end of life is imminent, or else we struggle to find that information while planning a funeral. Our moms are always there – taking care of everyone and doing what they’ve always done, year after year. As King said, “I wish we could have shared and enjoyed my mom’s stories, and laughed and cried about them together.”
This Mother’s Day is the perfect time to give the gift of your interest in your mom’s stories, memories or family lore. If you’re a mom or even a grandmother, you can prompt these discussions with your kids as well. However, you don’t have to figure out how to do it all by yourself. There is a national initiative to help people get conversations started called Have the Talk of a Lifetime. Have the Talk of a Lifetime (www.talkofalifetime.org) offers free guides and even a forum where other families have shared their experiences in having the talk.
So, how do you begin to Have the Talk of a Lifetime? Simply ask questions. Ask for stories. Things like:
• What is your proudest achievement?
• What was the one piece of advice you received from your parents or grandparents that you never forgot?
• Tell me about the most memorable summer you had growing up.
• Tell me about your favorite teacher. What did you learn from him or her?
While Mother’s Day is an ideal time to talk with mom or grandma, you can have the talk of a lifetime with anyone you hold dear — your parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles, a spouse. It can happen anywhere you and your loved one are most comfortable — over a meal, at home, on a walk, while playing a game. The talk can be between you and your mom, or you could include others, such as family or friends. Yourconversation can take place at any time — not just at the end of life.
For more information or resources to get you started with the Talk of a Lifetime this Mother’s Day, visit www.talkofalifetime.org .
Does anyone talk on the phone anymore?
Over the years as our technology has developed, life has become easier, convenience has become an entitlement, and for almost every aspect of life, “there’s an app for that”. Thanks to the mega minds of the world humans across the world can watch TV, order food, find jobs, and even date and socialize through apps. Plenty of dating experts by trade, and by experience have written and vocalized their contention with the current impersonalization of communication in relation to dating in the last few years.
Talking on the phone for hours has evolved into continuous texting threads. Relationships are over before they really begin because signals get crossed, and emotions are misread in a sea of blue and white bubbles.
But is it really all that bad?
It’s been almost six months now that I’ve been dating a man whom I’m certain I will spend my forever with, and between work, school and children our lives are jam packed with busyness. While finding time for one another has yet to become burdensome, when we are apart most of our communication through the week is done via text. Being that neither of us are “phone people”, continuous texting was never something we discussed, or mutually agreed to, it just was.
Phone conversations for me are torturous. I despise the obligatory feeling being on the phone gives me. There is nothing more frustrating, and tiring than feeling mentally anchored to one task, unable to split my focus, and maximize the usage of my time. The requirement of devoting one’s undivided attention for more than 15 minutes is not a commitment I’ve ever been willing to make.
With technology and apps making communication quicker, and easier than it has ever been, it is no wonder many feel that talking on the phone is a lost art. Courtship has become subliminal messages over social networks, and relationships last as long as Twitter handles.
For someone like me, texting is the saving grace from unwanted conversations, immediate responses and daily work sidebars. It proves to be the ultimate convenience allowing quick pleasantries to be exchanged through the hustle of my busy days. Whether or not phone conversations have truly become a fossil artifact in the history of communication is relative.
Two seasons of Love and Hip Hop Hollywood have brought every bit of drama Mona Scott-Young’s bank account could have hoped for. Whatever our reasons for watching (I watch to unwind, so, no judgment!), we tune in weekly to watch the racy and the ratchet do what they do best: make complete and utter fools of themselves for millions of us viewers. What we don’t realize is that too many young couples tune in week after week, watching dysfunctional relationships pan out, believing that the drama, the rollercoaster ride, the “real” and unresolved internal issues are normal. Like the following “situationships”:
Singer Ray J is looking for any and every moment to be in the spotlight, and clearly he doesn’t mind what he’s famous for as long as he is. Pair that low ambition with his childish ways and you have the makings of one of the worst relationship role models ever to grace ratchet TV. He has cheated on Princess consistently for two seasons. He’s manipulated her and put her in more than one awkward situation with his exes. Yet, he continues. Why?
Princess Love, though she seems to be a real sweetheart, admittedly has paternal issues she is trying to work through. On one of the final episodes of the second season, she realized that she had issues with her father that needed resolving, put her foot down and told Ray J she needed to be alone.
But not so fast.
According to last night’s Love & Hip Hop Hollywood reunion, the couple is not only together, but they’re engaged. He has written her a song, and they’ve professed their love for one another on Instagram. And yet, smiling while sitting on one of the plush reunion show couches, Princess admitted that Ray J is a bad influence on his friends when it comes to staying faithful.
This foolishness has become the new normal, what many young bloods are aspiring to and that is a huge mistake. Yes, reality TV is mostly for entertainment, but the cycles of brokenness it can promote definitely are no laughing matter, especially within the Black community.
Former B2K member Lil’ Fizz referred to women he has been casually dating as appetizers and main courses when explaining to former girlfriend Khamiya why he was not ready to settle down with her. To his credit, during the reunion show he apologized for what he said, stating that he would never want a daughter of his to be referred to in such a disrespectful manner. Apologies aside, the fact that his original statement has become the go-to way that a lot of men look at and interact with women has thrown a major wrench in how we communicate and build relationships. Too many of us lack the ability to think about building relationships because we’ve been basing our communication on texting and social media: I’ll get back to you, with half answers, when I’m ready messages; social media likes and DMs — “He liked three of my pictures in under one minute, I think he likes me!”; and the romanticized one-night stand. While reality television and social media makes this all look so glamorous and “cool” we are actually suffering major setbacks and malfunctions due to short attention spans and non-committal behavior.
And to anyone who watched this season, it is clearer than ever that Moniece Slaughter has been crying out for help for some time, and it’s no laughing matter. While some of the things she’s said (“I want you to stay…forever!”) to Rich have been quite funny, the underlying issue is not. The girl is at war internally. She’s at war externally. A young mother who is trying to balance what being a parent entails while trying to pursue her dreams and secure a loving relationship. Who’s to say if she should even be pursuing a romantic relationship until she has done the self-work necessary to be whole?
One huge lesson Millennials can learn from Moniece and Rich Dollaz’s connection is that one cannot rush or manipulate a relationship into growing faster or lasting longer than it is meant to. Reality television has warped our perception of relationships, and we believe they grow perfectly and fully over a few nights of drinks, dinner, and sex. Wrong. All wrong.
But no twisted “relationship” hurt my heart more than Nia Riley’s situation with rapper Soulja Boy. Constant and shameless cheating. A refusal to commit. And don’t get me started on the verbal disrespect. Soulja Boy called Nia Riley everything but her name when she confronted him about cheating on her with her former best friend, Nas. And after viewing the episode in which R&B legend, a.k.a., Nia’s father, Teddy Riley, tries to talk some sense into his daughter about Soulja Boy’s less than caring ways, the rapper responded by tweeting “F— Teddy Riley. That n—- lame.”
Stereotypes are reinforced, and all of the wrong things are condoned: It’s ok to throw a hissy fit when you get caught in a lie and are told that you’re wrong. There is no need for calm discussion and understanding. And when all else fails, call people names because THAT’S how you win an argument. Take no responsibility for improper behavior. Make no real effort to treat your loved ones better. Just curse them out, throw some jewelry on them, and rely on the fact that they care enough for you that they’ll be back.
Take these shows with a grain of salt. They are entertaining on the very thin surface, but just beneath are a host of traumas and internal struggles that are not meant to be made fun of, lauded or applauded. Understand that there is more to love AND hip-hop and that we’re all made for greater.
Follow Ashley on Twitter: @ashleylatruly
The lynch pin of love is trust. One cannot build or maintain a trusting relationship without communicating properly. It is ultimately what makes and/or breaks them. As simple as the concept may be, it is one of the most difficult things to do effectively because of the various ways to do so. The message that one is trying to convey, how one interprets the information is where things get lost in translation, and that is often where things go awry.
There are three forms of communication. A UCLA study concluded that 55% of it is nonverbal, 38% is one’s tone, and only 7% is the actual words that come out of one’s mouth. Many are great expressing themselves in one of the three and are terrible in the other two. It is very complicated; but that is why it is something that must be constantly worked on.
I will admit I am a horrible communicator of my feelings. I often intellectualize any of my former significant others’ feelings, I’m brutally honest, and articulating my thoughts requires me talking in circles until I finally get to my point to the point where both parties feel as if it is a chore. Many are like this. However, in all of my failures of communicating properly, I have realized how important it is to get on the same page.
The first thing I tend to do is be upfront with anyone I’m dating. I let it be known that I am very opinionated, I either sugar coat things or I’m brutally honest/blunt, I am not great at saying how I feel, and my being nonchalant can be read as I don’t care. Of course, when things go down and one is in the midst of an argument none of this matters. However, I put it out there in the beginning so that one knows what they may have to constantly deal with in a dating capacity. My opinion is that stating one’s strengths and weaknesses from the start is a step in the right direction for effective communicating because one is letting whoever know where they currently stand. You’re starting off by clearly stating something that can be your foundation. Not to mention, one can disarm many disagreements with “I told you I’m not good at ____!” One cannot be mad at you for being honest about who you are…the two may not be a good fit for each other.
Since everyone has their own skillsets in different areas, I think that one of the best things to do is find a means to meet in the middle. I suggest a template. Both should talk out-no matter how daunting it may be-and agree on how they will handle things. I personally think that the book “The Four Agreements” by Miguel Ruiz is an awesome template. Be impeccable with your word, don’t take anything personally, don’t make assumptions, and always do your best are great ways to build and maintain trust. Spoiler alert: neither will actually follow these things. Matters of the heart mean that someone is always going to say things they don’t mean, and jumping to conclusions will become a way of life because we’re going to take everything personally. However, one may be doing the best that they can by reminding their partner about the initial guidelines they have established and should constantly revert to.
Using myself as an example of someone who does not know how to communicate well within a relationship, I know that I say things that are incredibly direct and my being vague leaves much room for interpretation.
I have heard time and time again “I’m reading between the lines of what you said,” and I will remind them “Don’t do that…what I say is what I mean.” The truth is in being so vague leads one to make assumptions. It can come off as manipulative and alluding to guilt trips. Nope. I am just being honest.
If I call someone a lover or friend I am going to hold them accountable and I expect the same for my actions. To circumvent this as much as possible, I usually start said statements off with “I feel like.” It leaves out room for me making accusations, something is just my opinion, reasonable doubt that I may be wrong, and opens up the door for dialogue. I have often tried to alleviate this by saying “If you think that I may be mad about something, ask me. I will answer honestly. More than likely, I’m not.” Once again, none of this matters and it becomes a constant struggle to not shut down: my defense mechanism of choice.
Nonetheless, communication is mostly about effort. As someone who isn’t the greatest at it I am constantly throwing things against the wall in an attempt to see what sticks. I’ll ask for guidance from said person and try my best to stick to it. Holding ourselves as well as those we care about accountable in fact is us always striving to do our best. Ultimately, it builds, maintains, and further develops trust.
I think most people can relate to having that one, horrible, haunting moment: You’re the center of attention and the smiles that were one everyone’s faces are now morphing into looks of either shame, disgust, or confusion. What went wrong? You had them in the palm of your hand at first. You were the life of the party of the conversation, and then you turned into Michael Scott. Please tell me I’m not the only one who’s been in this situation.
For many years that was my reality. I’ve been transparent with my early struggles with stuttering, so when I finally mastered it, I was so excited to talk to any and everyone who would listen. The problem was that I didn’t know when to stop. So, I would start off being very engaging; but near the end, the room would become eerily quiet as someone gently pushed me into another direction and quickly changed the subject. It was as if all of the air was let out of the room and the adults needed to get away from the child who just ruined the atmosphere.
I remember asking my two older sisters what I was doing wrong. I thought I was talking just like them. Their critique to me was always: “You were doing well at first, and then…” So, once I hit high school I decided to start a personal experiment. It was a take on Jerry Seinfeld’s theory of “leaving on a high note.” I decided that I would start ending conversations one sentence early and see how it goes for me.
Before I realized it, it was a habit, but I couldn’t tell if it was just due to the “experiment” or from just pure maturity. However, as we look at things from the news and examples on social media we can see that there are people who are in desperate need of ending things one sentence early.
I think we can all remember a celebrity or politician giving a pretty good interview that just went left. Then, when they recognize their folly, attempted to clean up their comment. See Patricia Arquette. They would try to fix it, but only justify their ignorance by saying more offensive things to cover it up. Then, there’s that failed apology that no one believes, and the think pieces that we write addressing the folly.
We’ve all seen it on the larger scale, but we also see it in our everyday lives as well. People we interact with daily, and even the unfortunate comments that we let out, not realizing how over the line they were.
It also comes into play on social media. People are tweeting or posting pics and then they just go over the line with a post that ends up going viral and causing harm to their social standing.
So, my gift to you, is an invitation to my life long experiment. You don’t need to give me the results, but in this world of oversharing, let’s try to see what happens when we leave on a high note? Let’s use the underused ability of showmanship to see what happens when you leave your audience wanting more, as opposed to revealing too much and having to clean up your reputation.
Get to the point where you’re the way Michael Scott sees himself, as opposed to how everyone else saw him.
Kendra Koger dropped the mic and headed over to her twitter @kkoger.
I have a problem expressing myself to my fiancé. He told me that if I don’t start expressing myself he will end our relationship. How can I make it easy on myself to do so? I really need help!
Veronica: Oh Lord! What a threat! Honestly, I don’t think he was right to put that type of pressure on you. Particularly when he presumably proposed knowing that you weren’t exactly an open book. Perhaps the threat was an idle one and he’s trying to let you know just how frustrated he is. Still, for someone who doesn’t like to talk, this type of ultimatum certainly won’t give you the comfort you need to bare your soul.
As far as opening up, I’m not a therapist but I think that first you should really try to figure out why you still don’t feel comfortable opening up to your fiancé. Is it something he’s done? Is it something someone from your past did that makes you hesitant to let him in? You need to figure it out. And when you do, you can start by telling him this is why you’re so guarded. And ask him to be patient. And it’s never a bad idea to speak to a therapist. I’m sure they could get to the root of your issues and maybe even provide some type of suggestions on how you might begin to communicate better.
Brande: I can relate to your struggle. I’ve never been great at expressing myself to people I care about (to my detriment), but it’s a necessity for establishing lasting healthy communication in your relationship. Figure out what makes it difficult for you to express yourself, i.e. is it a personal issue like fear of rejection that only you can work through, or do you hold things back because of how your partner has reacted to your expressions in the past?
If the former is the issue, let go of the baggage and recognize when you have a loving, accepting person in front of you who wants to know your thoughts and, just like you, needs to know how you feel about him and your relationship. If the latter is the issue, communicate to your partner that you need him to be more open and understanding when you express your feelings and that his doing so will help you be more comfortable opening up. Also, make sure you nip this issue in the bud before you walk down the aisle. It’s interesting your fiancé would propose while your expressiveness was still a problem in his eyes, but make sure you two don’t just gloss over this issue. It could cause much bigger problems in your marriage if it’s not handled now.
Victoria: This is a tough one because I feel like I need more details. Is his issue that you don’t express what’s bothering you when you’re upset and it causes problems and resentment down the line? Or are you just not good with conversation?
It’s definitely an important thing to be able to communicate whatever feelings or concerns you have because you all will be married. If there’s anybody you need to open up to, it would definitely be him. So you need to figure out what is holding you back. Maybe you could write your feelings out and share them with him that way if you’re really not comfortable sharing them face-to-face. But as an adult, you should try and push past that and trust that whatever you come to your partner with he will understand and work with you on. Otherwise, it might not be the best idea to get married. Certain issues should be worked out before walking down the aisle.
As for his threats, again, I would need more information about how this lack of communication has affected your relationship to be able to say whether or not he’s really trippin’, but if you love him, try to work together to improve your communication skills as a couple. Good luck!
Jazmine: I think it’s probably wise for the both of you to seek counseling immediately, perhaps both separately and as a couple if you can afford it. Your inability to open up is more than likely the symptom of a bigger issue. His threat to end your relationship when you’re clearly struggling with this may point to a deeper issue as well.
Have you always experienced difficulty expressing your feelings? Did something happen in your relationship that has caused you to shut down? It’s really tough to make an accurate assessment of the situation solely based on the information provided, but I truly believe that a therapist would be helpful in the sorting out of your issues. I do realize that not everyone can afford to see a therapist, but maybe a couple’s workshop will be beneficial. Also, local churches often offer premarital counseling for engaged couples.
Lauren: I find it odd your fiancé gave you an ultimatum after proposing to you. However, everyone has a different communication style and before you both say “I do,” it would be best to seek counseling. Counseling will allow you both to express your differences through workshops and foster a safer relationship without misunderstandings or anxiety. If that is not an option, research articles that can teach you how to speak confidently to your fiancé. I also think you should examine why you don’t feel comfortable expressing yourself to your fiancé — that will offer you the most clarity.
I’ve been asked this question countless times over the years: Can two people who were in love and breakup then be friends? The answer is twofold: It depends, and maybe in time but usually not at first. To really get at this answer, we have to look at a definition of friendship.
There are many kinds of friends in life — some are situational, such as co-workers or schoolmates. When you change jobs or graduate, those friendships often don’t last. It’s not that you didn’t like each other; it’s that you didn’t have a bond deep enough to survive without daily reinforcement. There are also business colleague friendships but those often include the wearing of a social “mask” — you want to look good so you don’t reveal much if anything about your flaws and failures.
One of the characteristics of a deeply bonded friendship is emotional safety. This means you have the freedom to completely be yourself and openly share about the deep down stuff of your life. With emotional safety, you can be real, no social mask required. This also means that you lack hidden agendas, and that’s where the problem comes in as former lovers attempt to be friends too soon.
The typical scenario is this: you dated, you fell in love, it went badly, and you broke up. (We’re not talking about the kind of dating relationships that never got that deep.) Now, the person who once loved and made love to you is dating someone new, maybe even sleeping with someone new. It is almost impossible to resist the temptation to compare yourself to the new person in your ex’s life. “Why not me?” you can’t help but wonder. You haven’t yet moved on to someone you’re crazy about, so you are still feeling raw and wounded.
Your ex-lover, now “friend,” shares about a new relationship and you find yourself “coaching” him/her against it. You find fault with the new person, fault with the way they connected, fault with just about everything. You have a hidden agenda whether you are aware of it or not: to keep your ex-lover single until you are happily in love with someone else or until he/she comes back to you. Exposing yourself to the reality that your lover has moved on is like pouring gasoline on a fire — it keeps you inflamed and prevents healing.
Read more on breakups at YourTango.com
It’s a familiar scene: a thriving nightlife, a club or maybe a wine bar where glasses are clinking and singles are mingling before drifting off into the shadows — two by two. It’s not the perfect picture of romance, but when you’re caught up in the moment, a warm body feels like a fair substitute for love, right?
Hooking up is just a reality of the dating scene. But since when did the hookup scene become the place to find love? While you may think you’re just living the carefree single life, your brain is influencing your decisions more than you might want to admit.
1. Your Brain On Hooking Up: Men & Women Have Different Morning-After Emotions
We all know that love is a powerful drug. It’s comparable to being addicted to crack cocaine. Literally. The shared, near-identical effect amounts to a rush of feel-good chemicals in your brain (or a “high”) that leaves you with an enhanced mood, a heightened sexual interest and a boost of self-confidence … not to mention impaired judgment that can influence you to make poor decisions in the dark of night that you come to regret in the light of day (that is, the morning after).
The proof to this morning-after regret? Psychologist Anne Campbell from the Durham University in England surveyed more than 3,300 people between the ages of 17 and 40. Half of them — men and women equally included — reported having experienced a one-night stand. She asked them to describe their experiences and, more importantly, the emotions they experienced the morning after. Her research on casual sex found that despite women’s claims that they can have carefree sex unattached: 80 percent of men had overall positive feelings; meanwhile, only 54 percent of women had positive feelings.
Instead, they felt “regret at being used.” Women said, “I felt cheap,” “horrified afterward,” and “I felt degraded. Made myself look cheap and easy. Total regret.”
2. There’s A Connection Between Poor Mental State & Casual Sex
So why do we do it? Over and over again? It all has to do with motive. A study conducted by researchers from Ohio State and published in the Journal Of Sex Research sought to clarify whether the state of someone’s mental health determined how often they had random sexual encounters and vice-versa. In surveying the sexual behaviors and mental health of 10,000 people, those who reported serious thoughts of suicide or more depressive symptoms as teens were more likely to engage in casual sex as young adults. In other words, poor mental state and casual sex do reinforce each other — in both men and women.
3. Is There A “Hookup” Gene? Actually, Yes
In studying human sexual behavior, Justin Garcia and his research team from State University of New York at Binghamton, he suggests that a person’s DNA may be to blame when it comes to infidelity and sexual promiscuity. For their widely cited study, published in PloS One, they surveyed 181 young adults on their sexual history and tested them for a gene called DRD4, which affects levels of dopamine in the brain and has been associated with ADHD, alcoholism, as well as compulsive, risk-taking behaviors such as partying and gambling. Out of the subject pool, 43 tested positive for the gene, and according to the researchers, “report a greater categorical rate of promiscuous sexual behavior (i.e., having ever had a ‘one-night stand’) and report a more than 50 percent increase in instances of sexual infidelity.”
Does that leave you off the hook to cheat? The experts reiterate that your genetic makeup isn’t the only influence over your sexual behavior.
Read more about hookups at YourTango.com