Think about it. Where and when do people learn about communication? It is not taught in school, parents aren’t provided classes so that they can teach its grammar to their children, teachers don’t find it in their course syllabus, there is no certificate program. Good communication, however, is the foundation of all relationship. Without it, there are great misunderstandings, inaccurate assumptions and no ways to negotiate differences. No wonder people have difficulty with it!

Communication starts with knowing and accepting oneself; ones feelings, desires, needs, inclinations. Understanding that no two people are precisely alike is also important. No two people have the same likes, opinions and viewpoints on things even if they share quite a few. Being able to accept those differences is imperative. Then finding ways of negotiating those differences ensure a good outcome.

Too often, people can stumble over obstacles in achieving good communication. Blame and judgment cause great harm. Communication can not be based on being right or hurting the other. Instead it must be based on wanting to understand and support the other. Good communication can be achieved by people being able to hear the other regardless of whether there is agreement. Understanding that there is no “right” way to think or behave, instead realizing that there are countless valid ways of thinking and behaving. Learning how to speak for only oneself is critical for communication. Too often people think they know what the other person thinks, or worse, what’s best for them. It is important to learn to listen to the other, not speak for them.

This can all be extremely elusive and seem impossible to achieve. For this very reason, the professional guidance of a therapist can help couples learn the art of communication. There are very real tools people can learn that will increase ability to listen and speak well. Counseling helps people and couples learn the necessary skills to garner mutual respect, care and understanding.

Tetty Gorfine, LMHC