Bridging the Communication Gap

We decided the University of Richmond Campus wasn't a large enough bridge.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Communication: Avoiding the Gray Area (Published Jan 21st, '10)

One of the most feared expressions known to mankind is the phrase “We need to talk.”

Whether a parent, friend, teacher or significant other says it to you, it automatically triggers the body to react in a negative manner. The sweat glands open up, your hairs become on edge, blood begins to rush to your head as your mind races back and forth, attempting to figure out where the conversation will lead. Fear begins to creep in the hearts of even the bravest men. Why is this so?

“We need to talk” is alarming because of the fear of the unknown. Fear seeps in when something catches us off guard. This mainly occurs when people are not on the same page.

Our generation has a very difficult time communicating our TRUE feelings, especially in person. Many people (especially males) in this day and age feel more comfortable expressing how they feel via text messages or via instant messaging, which is becoming a growing problem. We must learn to express how we feel and say what we want. We are no longer in high school where we should have to play the guessing game that kind of goes like this:

“I thought you meant this. I assumed that you wanted this. I guessed you felt this way about me. I don’t know what you want from me. I don’t know what I want. I don’t know where this is going. Let’s just see what happens.”

Our university and extracurricular activities keep us entirely too busy to constantly play the guessing game. It is time to mature into the young adults we say we are by openly expressing what we want and how we feel. And if we do not know what we want, then we need to make it clear that we are undecided.

Do not string people along because you cannot make a firm decision and stick with it. If you are undecided, do not expect the other person to tarry along while you figure out what you want. And if you are dealing with someone who is undecided, do not allow him or her to continue to string you along.

Now, being a second-semester senior, I realize that life in college is too short to be constantly unsure or uncertain about what you desire in life. Therefore, to bring someone else in your unsure and uncertain lifestyle is not only selfish, but also unfair to the other person.

Ways to avoid the gray area:
Be honest.
Be blunt.
Have the conversation early.
If feelings change, address them right away.
If you and the other person do not have the same vision of what you want or expect, avoid the situation all together.

Benefits of avoiding the gray area:
Decreases stress.
Decreases sleepless nights.
Increases productivity.
Avoid hearing “We need to talk.”

Conflict in relationships is virtually inevitable. Conflict isn’t the problem. How you handle the situation determines whether you will continue to have a healthy relationship or whether you and your partner will continue to drift apart.

Miscommunication can be one of the leading sources of stress, anger and resentment. Next time you are feeling unsure about your position or feelings in the relationship, take time out and talk it out. If your partner cares about you and how you feel, he or she will not mind hearing you out. Just try to avoid using the phrase “We need to talk.”

If you want to bring up the conversation, you can start it by using “I” statements. Do not start the discussion asking numerous questions about how the other person feels. It causes people to become defensive immediately.

Once you open up, your partner is more likely to do the same. Then listen to your partner carefully and try to see his or her point of view to see whether you two can come to a solution or compromise that is beneficial to both parties.

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