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Photo (c) 10-2018 - Kimberly D. Miller

(c) Kimberly D. Miller - October 27, 2018

Probably one of the most-asked questions in life, one that we ask ourselves over and over, time and time again, is this...why didn't it (or isn't it) work(ing) out with (insert name here). As humans, the largest part of our survival skills depend upon relating with other humans effectively and, for that to happen, we simply must have communication in every form...from body language, to voice inflections, effective listening and optimal relating skills. Without all of those in place, all of our relationships will either fail or limp along in a state of flux and discomfort, and no one wants that.

Despite popular opinion, relating to another human being isn't always easy, nor does it come naturally to many of us. These are actual skills and they must be learned, especially if you grew up with role models who didn't know how to communicate. Mine is the latter. I had parents who fought through my entire childhood and didn't know how to relate to us as children. They would fight in the evenings more often than not, throw glass objects against the fireplace in anger and then not talk to each other for days or weeks at a time. I remember praying for them to get a divorce, but they just would not give it up. We were kids who grew up with alcoholic parents who had no communication skills and when they were mad at us on top of that, we would either be spanked or hit and then ulitmately ignored as though we didn't exist for days or weeks on end. It has taken me a long time to finally realize that the reason I have never been able to maintain healthy relationships, beit friendships or love, is because I have never known effective communication skills, that is until recently, but in order to obtain them, I had to go through months of therapy and years of failed relationships.

During my extensive research on communication over the past 9 months, I have amassed a pretty impressive library of articles on the subject. This one in particular, is one that I would like to pass on to you. It is entitled, Top Ten Ways To Improve Your Communication Skills, and it can be found through this link: Pay close attention to number 5 as this is my biggest pet peave now that we have all of this technology. You cannot effectively communicate with people in your life while you are on your phone. I had a friend a while back, who I absolutely could not stand to talk to on the phone because she would say to me every 3 minutes, “Hold on, someone's on the other line,” and then proceed to cut me off, generally mid-sentence, and the crappy part of that was that more often than not, they were not important calls...she just couldn't stand to not know what they wanted. We are no longer friends, not due to just those circumstances, but many others as well, but that was large part of it, especially since she lived in another state. When I am on the phone with someone I care about, I am on the phone with them and everyone else can just leave a message and wait until I am done. The same applies to spending time with someone. You will never find me checking my phone every 5 minutes or answering every text that comes through. If I am with someone doing something, then they are my priority. I only wish everyone felt that way. I almost cry when I see families in a restaurant and every one of them, including the parents, are on their phones, not looking at or talking with one another. This is such a sad commentary on our times.

What advice would I offer to clients/friends who ask about creating a healthy relationship? I would offer this: Turn off your electronics and learn to listen...listen with your whole heart and be in the relationship with the one you love. Be respectful and considerate of their feelings and never feel that you are more important than they are. If you snap at them in anger, never neglect to apologize.

There will always be time to check your phones, computers, etc., but the time you have available to spend with the one you love, is limited...make the most of it...communicate.

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