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Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Communication and Conflict

Dear Readers,

I have to address this matter of communication. It is a big bee in my bonnet - dozens of them actually, buzzing to get out.

I want to sit everyone down and affirm that yes, communication in all relationships is very important. Without it, I don't believe, we have any real relationship. So let's all agree that working on communication skills is important, essential, helpful and all the rest... agreed? Okay, let's move on.

Now, here's the dilemma. In relationships we will all differ. We will not agree on everything all the time. This is what makes each of us unique and special and what gives relationships that wonderful rush - to discover that someone different from me actually cares or/and wants to engage in meaningful relational activities with me (like, communicating, for one). Relationships that thrive allow each person much freedom to be who he/she is, to bring to the table the totality of his/her thoughts, feelings, opinions, joys, sorrows, ideas etc. This is what I think of as ideal in relationships. Probably many/most women feel like me in this.

Now, we know men are different. Unique, wonderful, designed by God - different. Maybe some men appreciate my sentiments above. Maybe not. I don't know. But I wonder if men prefer other things in relationships - like rule-following, procedure, method, consistency, nodding and smiling and being pleasant (in general), not talking too much, not stating what one thinks too much... Is this just a male/female difference? I don't know, I'm just letting the bees out of my bonnet.

I don't understand. I don't think communication is all that difficult. The method, the communicating is often the target of what's the problem in relationships. But I think more often it is what is communicated (i.e. the heart of a person - where they differ, how they think etc), that creates the conflict.

For example, let's say you think I'm a total jerk. You can communicate that to me in the nicest, most diplomatic way possible. You could follow all the rules. You could draw me out first. You could ask clarifying questions. Then you could muster all your sweet strength and gently, kindly, tell me what you think of me, in the nicest, most dressed-up language possible. Do you think the communication itself will create the blow-up that would follow? I think NOT! It is your very thoughts that create the conflict - and this is not right or wrong - it just IS.

If we are to be free to be who we are in relationships, and if there is acceptance available for all sorts of differences between us, then we need to realize that it isn't necessarily the communication styles and preferences that are always the culprit to why conflict arises. Often it is our very selves, our very natures that spark the argument.

I just had to get that out there.

Thanks for listening.

Even if you think I am a jerk. Sometimes.

Sarah

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