It’s the beginning of the semester and I rolled my eyes in a communication studies class the other day, as I was already assigned homework. It’s supposed to be syllabus week, it’s supposed to be easy. This class struck me from the beginning as one that will help me think more critically about the world in which we communicate, but still, it was 9pm and I was ready to go home.

I finally looked over the assignment given to me the next morning. What I didn’t realize in class was how unique this assignment really was. We weren’t assigned interview questions, we were asked to find a pattern.

Our professor assigned us to ask around about what people felt was the biggest issue within interpersonal relationships. Out of 5 people asked, every single person said communication.

Before diving into this, I’d like to point out that I don’t believe all communication is flawed, and not all relationships are either. I am simply addressing the overall umbrella problem that many people believe is connected to relationships. And that is flawed communication.

When I asked my co-worker Jeff Newton this question, his answer really stuck out to me. Read this carefully.

“Communication in today’s world is very much a one-way art form. A post. A text message. A reply on a page. An email you don’t intend to read the response on. They are all fire and forget missiles. Words are cheap in the digital age, no constraint to use them sparingly, moreover to even put the effort into preparing your thoughts before you apply them.”

Communication in today’s world is very much a one-way art form. It’s unfortunate, but true. A lot of times problems arise because both parties are communicating to be heard, not communicating to listen. They want to be listened to, without listening themselves.

They are all fire and forget missiles. Stop reading for a moment, and try to remember what the last three text messages you sent were. I know I can’t do it. When we send messages and say words before we think about them, we are likely to forget them.

Words are cheap in the digital age, no constraint to use them sparingly, moreover to even put the effort into preparing your thoughts before you apply them. Day-to-day communication is becoming more and more shallow, there is no depth to the messages we are sending each other. No retention or passion for what is being said most of the time.

I think a lot of this ties into the idea of meaningless communication. Problems arise when you feel as though you are not being heard, you are not being taken seriously. There is too much reaction going on to recognize what the voice in front of you is saying. And that’s flawed.

 “All too often people allow themselves to be flawed and selfish. They don’t listen for understanding, they listen to respond.”

Communicating within relationships whether it be romantic, or with family members, friends, coworkers, peers, etc., should never be about the next sentence. Speak and listen for the here and now, retain what people are saying, appreciate their messages to you.

Personally attempt to make room for acceptance and vulnerability while limiting the space for selfishness and reactions this week. In my opinion, the number one problem in interpersonal relationships is communication, the right kind of communication could make the right kind of difference in many relationships.

 

Inspired by Jeff Newton and Professor Brockhage

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