Good communication involves listening, assertiveness, and responsibility. Communication is about getting our needs met through and with others. A primary problem in our society is people don’t understand each other because:

  • we don’t communicate our personal needs and dislikes in an assertive way.
  • we don’t understand what someone else is trying to convey to us.
Lessons don't go away. They keep presenting themselves until we learn them.--Melodie Beattie

Expressing our needs and dislikes (setting "boundaries") involves:

  • assertiveness
  • use of "I" messages

Understanding others involves:

  • good listening - The importance of "just" listening: read the poem called LISTEN.
  • empathic responses - restating what was said without solutions, embellishment, or talking about ourselves. The focus stays on the other person.

Counseling professionals can help us evaluate our communication. Communication becomes an unconscious, automatic pattern that is difficult to change and involves practice and not just learning but un-learning the old familiar ways. Communication is the healthy way of getting our needs met and stating our dislikes.

When effective communication is not used or learned, people learn unhealthy tactics to cope and meet their needs, such as:

  • non-verbal
  • passive-aggression
  • isolation
  • acting out
  • verbal aggression
  • passive/placating
  • numbing - "I don’t care"
  • depression

Getting our needs met by other avenues can have personal and social consequences:

  • Can damage current relationships and prevent new ones.
  • Can create unhealthy patterned relationships: co-dependent, enmeshed, distant.
  • Can become a part of our identity - who we believe we are: depressed, passive, numb, angry, aggressive, etc.
  • Basically, it can prevent healthy growth.

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