The Weekly Dream: Things Fall Apart Pt. I
“What we have here is a failure to communicate.”
“Whoever talks the most, needs the relationship the most”
Earlier this summer, I had the opportunity to spend some time with my grandfather. We talked and as my grandparents’ forty-seventh wedding anniversary was around the corner, I asked him how he managed to stay with someone that long. Among the many reflections he shared with me, he said, “You have to make up your mind that this is where you want to be, and that the sacrifices you make are worth it.”
It is a conversation that stuck with me. I realized, and I have said before, that we do not have many examples of functional relationships. My generation is embarking upon life without knowing how to make a relationship that lasts. What will be the fallout? So I started thinking, if no one can tell me how to make a relationship work, then perhaps it would be instructive to discuss why relationships fall apart. And I am not just talking about romantic relationships, but any type of relationship, although romantic relationships lend themselves easily to analysis. The next five weeks will reflect my top five reasons for Why Things Fall Apart and how to combat relationship cancer.
Communication is the one of the primary culprits for relationships breaking down. As my brother Garlin is oft to say, “90% of relationship problems stem from a breakdown in communication”. Most of the time, someone has a need and it is not being met. Or there is a disagreement, and what ensues is an exercise in passive aggressiveness. This will only make matters worse. You should be able to communicate with your partners with complete and utter candor and honesty. My rule is that I am willing to discuss it once and then, I leave it alone.
What does it take to effectively communicate? First, it takes a skill that we all can improve upon: Active Listening. This type of listening is concerned with trying to understand where the other person is coming from. Next, there must be a sensitivity to the communication style of the person we are dealing with. In writing, the first rule is to tailor your message to your audience. You cannot come at everyone the same. To do so is asking for disaster, because it ignores the uniqueness of the people you are dealing with. Some people need to tough love, others need to be spoken to in soft tones. Whatever the approach, you want to make sure that you are not wasting your breath or your time. So it is best to strategize your approach so that you are heard. We are looking for more than an emotional release, we communicate to inspire change.
Lastly, there must be a willingness to communicate. Stereotypically, men hate the fact that women always want “to talk things out” and do not take the process seriously. However, I have met individuals of both sexes who hate “arguing” or “conflict” or “talking”. In other instances, they “shut down” and act cold, implementing the silent treatment. These individuals make a horrendous error. It takes a lot for someone to open up and to disregard that bravery leads to resentment and it also sends the wrong message. Even when you do not feel like talking, you have to talk. You might need some time to cool off or think, but do not make the mistake of being to busy or too hurt to resolve issues. Life is too short. If you are dealing with someone who does these things to you or who will not put their feelings to the side for the greater good, then as the saying goes, “shake the dust off your feet” and keep it moving. All you are going to get for your efforts is frustration.
Any relationship is a process, and communication is the lifeblood of relationships.
A closed mouth don’t get fed.
Truth and Peace,
Steven M DeVougas
Question of the Week: What communication challenges have you faced and how did you overcome them?