I would be the first person in line to advocate and admonish how important it is to keep the lines of communication wide open with the people in your life. Due to my dabble in behavioral health, I would estimate that the destruction of 99.9% (made-up number) of relationships is due to the lack of communication.
As Christians, we are taught to have an open line with God. It typically crops up in every church sermon and it’s practiced in every religious setting. That open line is prayer. We are taught to bring it all to God (even though He already knows what is going on). However, we are not encouraged to talk to each other as openly as we are to express ourselves to God. God hears all our stressors, dirty secrets, desires, pain, and even joy but we leave out a lot of things with the important people in our lives.
Lack of communication destroys relationships! Lack of communication breeds misconceptions. Lack of communication creates hurt, animosity and sometimes it allows our thoughts to run amuck. Even though most of us know this, it is sometimes the hardest act in which to engage. Why is it so hard to share with the people closest to you? No one wants to take blame or admit wrong. No one wants to offend the other person. No one wants to point out the speck in the other person’s eye or your own. No one wants to experience that awkward moment(s). No one wants to be uncomfortable.
So, in a marriage, when one spouse is hurt or unhappy it’s easier to shut up and ignore. In a friendship, when the bond starts to loosen, it’s easier to think the worse than talk about the problem. In a parent-child relationship, it’s customary to say that each does not understand the other due to the age and culture gap. I can go on about the mountain of excuses we tell ourselves because we are too uncomfortable with being open and honest.
For me, I have made similar mistakes with people in my life. The irony is that my job requires me to ask tough and some times uncomfortable questions in which I won’t even blink an eye. To put the importance of communication in prospective then think about: How many times have we dated and even marry the wrong person because we are uncomfortable to openly communicate about things that bother you? How many marriages have been destroyed because the easier road is to find solace in someone else’s arms or push a person away rather than deal with your problems? How many good friendships have been loss because we choose not to speak up?
While I pride myself on being outspoken (a confidence which has increased with age), I do have my moments when it is easier to let things go even though I knew something was wrong. I need to take blame for being a poor communicator at times. One would think that I should know better because this is what I do and teach for a living.
However, in a recent incident in which I was close to writing off a good friendship, I have learned that I need to do better with my communication with people who are important. I saw my mistakes after they happened and I did not take the responsibility to address them in a timely manner. The funny thing is that once “the elephant was acknowledge” it became so clear how a simple misunderstanding could have been resolved before it became an ongoing issue. It was one of those Whiskey Tango-Foxtrot moments that could have been avoided.
So, the question is how many important relationships have you screwed up/unhappy with because you were too uncomfortable to openly communicate? What are you going to do differently to become a better communicator?