Why does it seem like death separates the living from each other? There are days when I can’t seem to communicate at all with those who are closest to me. Despite, or perhaps because of, how close we are, we can’t get our points across without someone becoming offended. Ever since my brother died, it is possible that my knack for communication died with him.
In a professional setting I can be clear, concise, thorough, and objective when communicating, whether it is written or oral. I can talk down a budding conflict in the grocery line. I can mediate my friends’ marriage troubles through instant messaging. But the difference with those exceptionally close to me is emotion. Emotions, such as guilt, impatience, and feeling hurt or criticized, cause miscommunication, misinterpretation, and tension.
In all of the articles I researched about communication skills, two key components repeatedly emerged: listening and not blaming. But how well can you listen if the other person shuts down? And how can you sound non-blaming if you know the other person is wrong? Okay, sarcasm probably doesn’t help matters, either!
It doesn’t matter how eloquent of a speaker you are, communication with a loved one is a learned art. It requires balance, both sides giving in, and a lot of thought before words are spoken. If there are traumatic events in the relationship’s past or complicating factors such as depression and anxiety, communicating effectively can be a real hurdle.
My brother was the peacemaker. He used his quick wit and sense of humor and also his practical advice to smooth over any situation. With this role unfulfilled in my inner circle, I have to remind myself to be an instrument of peace. It doesn’t always work. But making the extra effort is an act of love that would make my brother proud.