Since communication is really just a matter of talking and listening, it should be simple and straightforward. Yes, it should be. But, of course, genuine communication involves two people with tender feelings and strong opinions. The process becomes complicated when a person’s emotions are on the line. Many of us are liable to put up barriers due to insecurities, or avoid participating in a balanced conversation for one reason or another. It’s frustrating, right?
Let’s look at six common obstacles couples encounter in their quest for productive communication:
1. Too much talking and not enough listening.
Some people consider themselves skilled communicators because they can talk nonstop. But the ability to speak is only one part of the equation—and not the most important part. Communication requires talking and listening, and most people find it easier to do the first than the second. Great communicators are first and foremost great listeners.
2. The need to “fix” every problem.
Rather than listening with empathy, many men and women try to remedy every wrong by offering lots of advice. When you reveal your feelings to a chronic problem-solver, his focus on fixing can undermine the real goal of gaining greater understanding. Sure, there’s a time for problem-solving and practical thinking. However, it might be beneficial to wait until your partner asks, “What do you think I should do about this?”
3. The dumping dilemma.
Some people view conversation as an opportunity to purge. They don’t know how much is too much, and they confuse gratuitous venting with genuine disclosure. We imagine you’ve been around folks like this, and after a while you start to feel trapped and tricked, for there’s no give-and-take. People like this want a sounding board not a soul mate.
4. The expectation to read minds.
“If you really understood me, I wouldn’t have to explain everything to you.” Every heard something like that? Although mind-reading earns big ratings on sensational TV shows, it has little to offer within the context of real relationships. Partners understand each other not by “picking up vibes,” but by dialoging in a clear and direct manner. If you want to be known by your partner, it will happen because you share your thoughts and feelings.
5. Hogging the spotlight.
When it comes to conversation, some people are the equivalent of the scene-stealer in the school play. They keep elbowing others out of the way so they can steal the spotlight. Great communication starts with genuine interest. You have to sincerely want to know what’s going on inside your partner, and vice versa.
6. Keeping everything superficial.
Many people want to keep conversation light and surface-level. What these folks often struggle with is not the willingness to communicate their feelings, but the inability to access those feelings. They want to talk; they just don’t know what to talk about. That’s why we encourage everyone who wants to excel at communication to become aware of what’s going on inside.
If you want a soul connection with your partner, begin by breaking down barriers that hinder a deeper level of conversation.