What kinds of communications are there?
There are various types of communication, which exist with different purposes. I find it helpful to divide communications into categories because some couples have more trouble with one category than another. Identifying the trouble spots in their communicational array will make for more specific and speedy solutions to their communication problems.
Instrumental Communication: This type of communication aims to share information with the hearer so that the hearer does something we want or need them to do. Instrumental communications can vary widely in significance. For instance, we are communicating instrumentally if we tell our spouse that we are running out of milk and we would appreciate if they could pick some up on their way home from work. We are communicating instrumentally if we tell our spouse we need them to stop drinking or the relationship is at risk of becoming unmanageable.
Informational Communication: This type of communication intends to share information with the hearer because we believe the hearer might want to or might need to know the information we have but they do not have. We are providing informational communication when we tell our spouse that they have a message on the answering machine. We are providing informational communication when we tell our significant other that we love them.
Collaborative Communication: This type of communication attempts to share information about a problem or uncertainty and receive assistance from the hearer about the problem or uncertainty. For instance, we might say to our spouse, “I am worried about our child’s grades and wonder what we can do to help her raise them.”
Casual Communication: This type of communication is talk for the sake of talking. This type of communication is not to be underestimated in terms of importance. Keeping up a comfortable stream of casual communication with our significant other can be a source of great comfort and strength for both of you.
What makes for good communication?
First, an effective communication is one that is clear and generally brief. It gets the message across in a manner that does not leave much room for ambiguity and misinterpretation. The effective communication does not bring in extraneous details that distract the hearer from the core message to be conveyed. At the same time, the effective communication does not omit important details that could help the hearer to understand the speaker¹s perspective and experience better.
Second, an effective communication (even one that intends to express hurt, disappointment, or anger) minimizes overtones of personal rancor directed at the receiver. Ideally, the effective communication is posed in such a way as to allow continued constructive dialogue that seeks to resolve the problem, as opposed to initiating a cycle of escalating attack and counterattack.
Why is good communication important?
Good communication conveys our needs and wants effectively. This is not just good for us. It is also good for the person with whom we are communicating. The hearer is not left with a sense of uncertainty or anxiety about what we need or want them to do or to understand. The hearer is also in a better position to communicate effectively back to us. The development of effective communication therefore not only helps problems get resolved more quickly, it builds trust and confidence between the people communicating. We feel like we are on the same page. This trust and confidence contributes to the strength of the relationship and can help it weather the inevitable difficulties that occur between people.
What are some tips for communicating more effectively?
By Nathan S. Wagner, PsyD MBA
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