Do We Talk At, To, or With Each Other

Failure to listen can cause problems between parent and child, husband and wife, and between those sharing a relationship. By not hearing fully what the other person says, assumptions may be made which could lead to arguments and hurt feelings. It is important to hear, so that necessary information can be discussed and remembered.

Another communication problem is an inability to talk respectfully to one another. If an aggressive style of communication is used, the aggressor alienates others by dominating and controlling the conversation. If there is disagreement, it doesn’t matter what others have to say. Not only does alienation result, but hurt feelings could develop and sub-standard decision-making can occur. The old saying of “two heads are better than one,” demonstrates how important it is to encourage others to express themselves. This usually guarantees the best solutions. I could never understand the person who wanted the sole responsibility for decision-making, especially if he/she keeps getting the wrong answers!

People, who choose to be passive when others are talking, enable others to make the decisions. The passive person non-verbally communicates the desire to be left alone, and gives up the right to have his/her needs considered. It is not unusual for this person to become upset and complain when a decision is made. However, how can this person be upset, if not involved in the first place?! I love my husband dearly, but when he says “it’s up to you,” or “whatever you want,” I become burdened with the decision-making. Hey…aren’t we in a partnership? What if I make the wrong decision, or get tired of making decisions, all of the time? I welcome fresh perspective!

So…what’s the best way for a person to communicate? Each of us should strive to be assertive. When I am assertive, I know that I have the right to express myself respectfully (without hurtful words or hurtful behavior). The other individual, with whom I am talking, has the right to express him/herself (in a respectful manner). Between the two of us, we should find the best possible solution. When I talk in this manner, I invite conversation. Besides, I get tired of talking to myself!

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