Communication principles and misconceptions
As a newly married couple, it is important for each of you to understand the basic principles of interpersonal communication. Peter and Rose, communication is irreversible. Once one of you says something to his or her partner, it is not possible to take it back. The impact of what is initially said remains in the mind of the partner in an inventible way. This is why it is important for a married couple to think before saying hurting words out of anger. Abuses and arrogance should get no place in marriage context since the partner may forgive you, but the initial hurt will be hard to forget. This principle calls for patience between the couple such that they should always ensure that they do not act of anger, and they do not say something hurtful out of impatience (Rotella, 2001).
Peter and Rose, another vital principle of communication is one that states that communication is contextual. Interpersonal communication takes place in various contexts such as psychological context, relational context, situational context, environmental context and cultural context (Saito, 1989). Psychological context refers to ones’ needs, personality and values that may arise during a conversation. Relational context refers to your reaction in relation to your partner while situational context is the psychosocial location of the persons involved in the conversation. Environmental context is the location and time of the people who are communicating, and cultural context refers to the rules, beliefs and values that have been learned by the people communicating. These contexts of communication must be considered in order for people to understand each other during conversations.
It is absolutely vital for you, Peter and Rose, to understand that communication is inescapable. This principle states that it is not possible for two people not to communicate, either through words or otherwise (Rotella, 2001). It is possible for Peter to keep quiet and assume that he is not communicating to Rose; however, he may be passing a lot of communication through facial expressions, gestures and other forms of body languages. This is why a husband should be cautious of which body-language message he passes to his wife and vice versa.
As much as communication seems simple to many people, it is crucial for you, Peter and Rose, to understand that communication is complex. According to Saito, (1989), in every form of communication, there are six hidden persons involved. For example, whenever your are conversing, there are always six people involved; who Peter perceives he is, who Rose perceives she is, who Peter perceives Rose is, who Peter thinks Rose perceives he is, who Rose perceives Peter is and who the other person perceives you think he or she is. This shows that every communication process is complicated, and every partner must understand that people have different thoughts about any issue that they could be discussing, depending on their perceptions.
There exists a misconception about interpersonal communication, whereby people assume that interpersonal communication is a matter of common sense (Rotella, 2001). This is not true because if it were, people would not be having many problems associated with communication. Peter and Rose, please note that interpersonal communication is more than just a matter of common sense, and both of you must use significant repertoire of skills in order to make the right choices in the relationship. Make sure that you do not assume that you or your partner can communicate intuitively, since the assumption that all people intuitively know how to communicate with the others is a big misconception.
The other misconception about interpersonal communication is that it solves all problems. People can communicate effectively and show exemplary interpersonal communication-skills, but this does not guarantee that all their problems will be solved. Some people assume that the more someone communicates well, the more he or she can solve more relationship problems.
Barriers to Interpersonal Communication
Peter and Rose, it is important for couples to understand all barriers that may affect interpersonal communication. In all instances communication barriers usually affect the bridge between the sender and receiver during communication.
There are external barriers that can significantly affect interpersonal communication. These barriers include physical and environmental obstacles that interfere with effective communication by acting like distractions between two partners (Saito, 1989). In your case, you may want to want to discuss some issues but there could be external barriers such as children making noise. It is possible to avoid some forms of external barriers that you may feel are a nuisance to your conversations. For example, you can look for a quiet place where you can communicate comfortably away from external barriers.
Peter and Rose, internal barriers also cause ineffectiveness of interpersonal communication between couples. In such a case, internal barriers originate from within the communicator. In some cases, one partner may be trying to pass a message but the other one could be too involved in his or her own thoughts such that he may not understand what the partner is saying. In other cases, one partner may not be listening while the other one is talking, leading to a breakdown of communication. Boredom, stress, lack of interest may all lead to internal barriers that can make communication extremely ineffective (Saito, 1989).
Cultural differences and language differences can lead to another type of barrier known as semantic barrier. One of the partners may speak in a language or dialect that the other one may not understand, leading to a barrier in communication between the two persons. In most cases, pronunciation, vocabulary and dialect, can easily lead to lack of effective interpersonal communication between people. Cultural differences may lead to ineffectiveness of communication since one partner may not be conversant with certain things. In some cultures, there exist some taboo topics that cannot be discussed in public. If one partner starts such a topic, the other one may feel uncomfortable to participate due to cultural differences (Saito, 1989).
Assessing Personal Communication and Improving Competencies
As you settle down in marriage it will be crucial for each of you to take regular individual assessments about how you are fairing in the communication areas. According to Belmore, (2009), in communication, it is important to ensure equality such that none of you should dominate his or her participation in conversations. During conversations, a couple should allow bi-directional communication and before embarking on serious issues, it is advisable to start with less serious talk that can effectively warm up the oncoming discussion. As a newly married couple, it is good to refer to each other by names whenever you are conversing since it creates a good rapport between partners. For example, during a phone conversation, it is important to keep on using your partner’s name so as to make him or her feel appreciated and valued. Another way of increasing rapport with your partner is to ensure that you use words and statements that are courteous when you are communicating. When one starts to use courteous words in conversations, it becomes a norm that reflects well on the overall relationship.
This is why it is important for both of you; Peter and Rose, to ensure that you make a personal assessment of how often you call your partner by name and how many times you use courteous words for conversations. Also, it is good to adopt the habit of smiling when you are making conversations with your partner so that your partner can know that you are genuinely interested. Also, maintaining eye contact can help your partner to communicate without fear. Maintaining eye contact and smiling when talking with your partner can enhance levels of attentiveness and increase your partner’s self-confidence (Belmore, 2009).
In order to improve on interpersonal skills, a newly wedded couple can join a course that can ensure that you can effectively understand each other in conversations. Apart from learning through a short course, it is important for each individual to evaluate his or her communication links and come up with any problems that can be rectified for future purposes. Evaluations can ensure that both individuals continue to improve their perceptions of each other, thus making it very effective to be understood and to understand your partner. Improving your communication competencies will impact positive on your overall relationship.
Active, Critical and Empathic Listening Strategies
Peter and Rose, active listening refers to giving your partner full attention whenever he or she is communicating. In active listening, one listens with a purpose at the back of his or her mind since there has to be receiver feedback during active listening (Bodie, 2011). When one partner is talking, it is vital for the one who is listening to do so carefully and attentively so that he or she can assess the accuracy of the message. In active listening, the communicator always expects either positive or negative feedback.
In empathetic listening, partners must put themselves in their partners’ shoes. The listener must listen carefully and understand the feelings of the person who is talking. Peter and Rose, please ensure that when the need arises, you can empathize with your partner so that both of you can feel appreciated and cared for. Through empathic listening, both of you can ensure a deep ability to perceive each other’s point of view as if it were your own (Badie, 2011).
Critical listening follows the steps of active listening, but in this case, the listener must critique the message received and challenge it first before offering a response. In such a case, the listener evaluates the accuracy, utility or meaningfulness of the message received, in a critical manner. In all cases, critical listening goes hand in hand with critical thinking since whenever your partner listens critically, he must think and evaluate the message critically too before responding. According to Badie, (2011) critical listening does not imply that one partner should keep on challenging the other partner every now and then. It should be done whenever it is necessary, and the partner who is challenging the message must give his opinions and explain why he thinks his opinions are right.
How perceptions, emotions, and nonverbal expression affect interpersonal relationships.
Peter and Rose, even when you are not talking verbally, it is vital to note that non verbal expressions can speak a million words! This is why it is vital to use non verbal language in diligent manner to ensure that you do not pass on the wrong messages. Non verbal expressions involve eye contact or positioning of the body, hands and legs. For example, to gauge if your partner is attentive to what you are saying, you can easily check the eye contact. Also, the body positioning can communicate to your partner if you are nervous or relaxed during communication. Happiness, thankfulness, frustrations, anger, politeness and genuineness can be traced using non verbal expressions even when a couple is not talking verbally. Misinterpreted gestures can be rectified by ensuring that each partner is open enough to practice positive gestures as a way of developing the relationship.
Emotions play a vital role in any type of interpersonal relationship, and marriage is no exception (Wider, 2007). During conversations, a partner may use emotions either positively (happiness) or negatively (anger). When a partner speaks angrily out of anger, the other partner may feel unable to continue with a good conversation. In other cases, a partner may portray emotional outbursts that can lead to distrust, fights and fear between the couple. It is clear that emotions can make or break a relationship, and therefore, Peter and Rose, you must strive to contain your emotions as much as you can.
Perceptions, just like emotions, can easily affect your interpersonal communication negatively. Peter and Rose, different people have different perceptions about the world and the environment, and therefore, you need to understand that your partner does not necessarily share in your perceptions. For example, when Peter is talking to Rose, he must understand that Rose has different perceptions of external environment since you both share different contexts of recall, memory, stimulation and evaluation. Psychologists have always cited perceptions as one of the causes of misunderstandings among couples (Wider, 2007), since most couples do not understand that people cannot have similar perceptions.
I believe this letter has come at the right time, just as both of you are settling down in marriage. Unlike dating, marriage is much more serious since you will be confined in the same house; doing every activity together till death do you part. That is why interpersonal communication skills will be very effective in ensuring that your marriage heads in the right direction. Peter and Rose, ensure you are conversant with the five principles of interpersonal communication. It is also to keep away from assumptions and various misconceptions that mislead people about interpersonal communication. This letter will help you to overcome communication barriers and understand your partner in a much clearer way than before. Also, you can now understand active, empathic and critical listening and their effective applications.
Belmore, J. (2009). Interpersonal Communication: The Self and Perception in Communication. Online Submission.
Bodie, G. D. (2011). The Active-Empathic Listening Scale (AELS): Conceptualization and Evidence of Validity Within the Interpersonal Domain. Communication Quarterly, 59(3), 277-295.
Rotella, M., Gold, S. F., & Andriani, L. (2001). When anger hurts your relationship: 10 simple solutions for couples who fight. Publishers Weekly, 248(44), 46-46. http://search.proquest.com/docview/197058087?accountid=45049
Saito-Fukunaga, M. (1999). GENERAL SEMANTICS AND INTERCULTURAL COMMUNICATION. ETC: A Review Of General Semantics, 46(4), 295-298.
Wider, K. (2007). Emotional Communication and the Development of Self. Sartre Studies International, 13(2), 1-26.