Communicating and Connection - Collaborative Family Therapy
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Communicating and Connection

In today’s world of computers, cell phones, text messaging, and email, it appears as if communication between people is easy and accessible. While the availability of different modes of communication have made people much more accessible to each other, unfortunately, it has also taken away from actual face to face conversations and interactions.
There is something that is much easier about writing down our thoughts in an email and pushing the send key, than there is to voicing them to a friend or partner in their presence. It is often the fear of the other person’s response to what we need to say that often stands in the way of us speaking our thoughts, feelings, and needs to our significant others. Yet, this is exactly what is needed to promote a conversation that will address the issues at hand, and allow the body language to show that will help facilitate the conversation.
Much of communication is not the words that we say, but the way in which we say them. The tone and inflection of voice, the way in which we hold our bodies, and our facial expressions say so much more than the actual words that come out of our mouths. As the saying goes, “actions speak louder than words,” and this includes having a face-to-face conversation with someone you care about. The next time you are upset, disappointed, frustrated, or feeling misunderstood, try giving yourself and your loved one the biggest gifts of all – your mind, body, and spirit in person!
Helpful ways to get started:
* Realize that your feelings are important, and if shared, will help others learn more about what you need and desire. This will help to promote growth in the relationship.
* Use “I feel… when you” versus “you always” or “you never” statements to express your thoughts and feelings. This avoids accusatory language and invites openness to discussion.
* We often have defenses up to protect ourselves, so try to express yourself with as much grace and openness as possible. Slow down and take the time to speak to others as you would like to be spoken to.
* If anger is in the way of effective expression, take some time to breathe, calm down, and think about what it is that you wish to accomplish in the conversation. You can always revisit an issue or conversation later – this is the beauty of being in relationship with others. Now may not be the right time, but later may be. Engaging in physical touch with your partner (holding hands, sitting next to each other) while conversing can help to promote closeness and a sense of unity through the discussion as well.
* Put yourself in the other person’s shoes. Take a few moments to try on the other person’s perspective, even if it is uncomfortable, in order to better understand his or her needs. While your own needs and desires may be different, it is important to respect the other person’s perspective.
It is important to note that closeness does not necessarily come from similarities, but that it evolves from acknowledging and learning from one another’s differences as well. Attempt to learn from those close to you by being curious to your differences, and inviting in the possibility of working together in those differences.

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