One Principle That Will Change Every Relationship

Life is full of relationships. We encounter people every single day of our lives and let’s be real here: none of us received a handbook on how to interact with people. For some of us you can tell! Some of us seem to have a better knack at it than others do, but I think we can get better at relationships. Whether it’s the relationship you have with your spouse, one of your kids, a co-worker, boss or even someone you just met, how do we make these relationships better?

For those of you who don’t know me personally, I am from Ohio and my wife, Felicia, is from here in Kentucky. Even though we only grew up an hour and a half away from each other, it’s sometimes as if we grew up in completely different worlds. All the time, we’re discovering cultural differences that we have. One huge difference is that because I am from the north I have the tendency of being too blunt for my own good. I have to watch what I say, where as Felicia is very subtle in the way she talks. This gets both of us in trouble all the time. It’s never that one is right and one is wrong. They’re just different. 

What is normal to one person, can easily be foreign to someone else. This reality is true in every relationship we’re in. There are times when Felicia and I completely misunderstand each other but every time it’s because we see the world from different angles. We come with our own set of assumptions, expectations and past experiences. 

So what do we do when the differences become a problem?

Working for a church, I hear stories all the time of people trying to figure out how to deal with relationship issues. I’ve also recently learned that no matter who the relationship is with, there is one principle that will change everything. Unfortunately though, it’s not even that profound. 

Communicate. It’s just communication.

It’s a two sided coin. One side is speaking and the other, just as important side, is listening. 

Speaking is putting your thoughts and feelings into words and sharing it with those around you. It’s like painting a picture; you have the ability to paint in great detail or as abstract as you want it.@@How you deliver your thoughts is incredibly important. They must be clear.@@If a person doesn’t understand what you are saying, it’s your responsibility to simplify it or present it in another way.

Listening is the other side of the coin of communication. I’ve discovered, largely from my personal experience, that we are good at one or the other but are rarely good at both. But we must always fight to have both in order to have a good relationship. To listen well, you must make it your goal in the conversation to understand what the one who is speaking says.

@@Communication is rarely about you. If it is, you are your relationship problem. It’s always about the other person.@@ Communication is selfless. It considers the other persons thoughts, feelings, and past experiences. We must learn to both listen and speak well. We must continually seek ways to serve others through our communication. This is how to make every relationship great. 

What’s something you need to do to improve the communication in your relationships? Are you better at listening or at speaking?

Marion Clifton