It’s no secret that communication is vital to almost every aspect of our lives. Everyone has heard the idea that “communication is key” at some point; it’s drilled into our brains from a very young age. I know my required health classes in both middle school and high school had units on fostering healthy relationships that inevitably included lessons on effective communication. Every self-help book on the shelf has a chapter about expressing yourself effectively on both a personal and professional level. If that’s not enough evidence pointing toward the significance of communication, you can quite literally major in it at most universities. Thus, you’d be hard-pressed to find someone willing to argue that communication isn’t important.
The interesting thing is, people hear this sentiment throughout their lives and still refuse to take it to heart. Whether it be an outright refusal to communicate or engagement in ineffective communication which could not possibly be less productive, so many people seem willing to jeopardize relationships of all kinds. If you aren’t willing to talk to the people you care about, you’re actively making your life more difficult for yourself.
Effective communication should be a conscious effort on everyone’s part, as well as something people think about more in general. There’s more to it than just talking and even more than just exchanging information. Ineffective communication isn’t really communicating — at least not in a way that’s going to benefit you. For example, if you’re interrupting, multitasking when talking to someone, using qualifiers, avoiding direct statements or waiting to speak instead of actually listening, are you really engaged in an exchange of information or is the conversation merely one-sided?
Speaking in the sense of personal relationships, you have to be willing to speak up. If you’re too scared to express your wants or needs to a platonic or romantic partner, neither of you is going to benefit from such a pairing. Professionally, if you won’t share your ideas or speak up for yourself in the workplace, it’s going to be extremely difficult to achieve any goals.
There are many trends and recent societal norms that seem to actively work against open communication. For example, ghosting requires the abrupt cutting of contact with a person you have been seeing or dating recently without any warning or explanation. Such a vanishing act does not provide closure and in most cases is unproductive. Obviously there are exceptions to every rule, but most people who choose to ghost do it because it’s easy and doesn’t require an awkward or uncomfortable conversation — especially in an age where a better partner is just a click away. I would argue this push for ease is a way of avoiding communication, which does not bode well for the future of communication in intimate relationships.
In the workplace, it is all too easy to find a discrepancy between what is said and what is heard. If leadership is poor, objectives are unclear or feedback is limited, it can contribute to an environment that asks employees to keep their head down and keep moving forward without ever bothering to ask why. In essence, it’s very easy to fall into the trap of speaking without truly communicating. We can talk all day long, but if nothing of substance is being said, or nothing is being absorbed and understood on the receiving end, no communication is taking place.
It takes effort and practice, but everyone is capable of good communication. One must listen (which is more than just hearing what another person has to say) and also pay attention to nonverbal communication such as body language, eye contact, facial expressions and tone of voice. You want to be confident in yourself while also being clear and concise for your audience. You should have respect for your communication partner, as well as an open mind to feedback.
While it seems like a simple argument, communication is extremely important. It can make or break someone in personal and professional relationships, and should thus be something people spend a bit more time thinking about.