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.