Thursday, August 20, 2015

Communication as a Means to an End

We often talk about “communication,” and everyone would agree that communication is important. Yes, I also agree with that. Totally. However, many people appear to have some misunderstanding about communication. Let’s talk about that today.

A lot of people believe that communication in itself is the purpose. However,communication is just a means to achieve a purpose. Once you fully understand how communication works as the means to this end, rather than the end itself, your communication skills instantly become more effective and better, and so do your relationships.

What do I mean by this? Well, when you say something to someone else, you may want to be aware what you are trying to deliver to the person. In another words, what do you want the person to do as a result of this communication? To understand your feelings? To answer your questions? To give you a hand? To hurt the person’s feelings? To give a compliment? Or what?

Let me give you a very typical example. A wife feels neglected by her husband because he comes home late and does not talk with her much recently. So, she says to him, “You don’t care about us anymore. You are selfish and immature, and this is not the marriage I wanted to have!” You can imagine this kind of interaction, can’t you? It’s very typical and understandable. The problem here is that she failed to deliver the message that she really wanted to convey to her husband.

Let’s think about the purpose of her communication in this example. Yes, she wanted to hurt his feelings in retaliation and that part was successful. However, it was not the main purpose. The main message she really wanted to convey was to have him understand that she was missing him and that she wanted him to come home early to have more time together, right? Unless she has already decided to dump him, there was no rationale to make her marriage worse. Then how could she deliver what she wanted to convey more effectively? Can you think of any? Well, how about this for example? “Honey, we really appreciate that you work so hard for us and you are such a great husband. Just…when you are late, I miss you so much and feel lonely. If you can come home earlier sometimes, that would make me so much happier.”

Well, of course we don’t know if the husband can actually come home early or not. But at least he understands her feelings and he would be more motivated to have more time with his family than would be so from the previous accusatory version.

If on a regular basis you can try to be more aware of the “purpose” of your communication, and come up with a thoughtful manner to deliver it, you will have better communication with your friends and family as a result. It costs you nothing to do this and the outcome is great! Try to utilize communication as a skill set, and see what happens in your life!

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