Why is Communication so Difficult?

So here is the question, why is communication between people so difficult?  Is it God’s fault?  Perhaps He went a little too far at the Tower of Babel. So, the Lord said, Genesis 11:7 Let us go down there and confuse their language, that they may not understand one another’s speech.

I’m just saying, it seems to be more difficult than it should be and most people need help.  Let’s have a talk about this topic. So here is our set up.  We’re sitting around with our favorite relaxing beverage, for me, it’s hot decaf tea in one of my favorite mugs. What do you want? Whatever it is, feel free to get it. We’re curled up in one of our rooms completely free with one another, meaning tousled hair, make-up free, totally relaxed, PJ’s or other relaxing clothes.  Got it? Okay.

Lately, I’ve been thinking about why communication is so difficult.  Some people use a lot of words to express their thoughts and feelings while others, use as few words as possible.  Besides that, someone could say and mean one thing and the person they are speaking to hears and perceives something completely different.  How is that even possible? It happens all the time. I’m sure you have experienced this before.  Here is an example from my life. Over 25 years ago my husband and I were newly married and had relocated to San Antonio, Texas. We did not know a lot of people at this point. One day we were watching a fashion show on TV.  It was early in our marriage because he probably would just say “Not interested” at this point in our marriage and I have learned to respect that.  Anyway, I remember seeing a woman wearing an outfit that was common in the early 1990s and I said to him,” Some styles are more flattering on some people but not others.”  My husband said “yeah.”  I sat there looking at him in anticipation, waiting for him to finish his sentence but nothing else came out.  He was done. That was his conversation with me, Yeah.

So after a long pause, I said to him, “I need a girlfriend.”  If I had a girlfriend we would probably spend the next hour talking about how we couldn’t wear that style because we were too this or too that. We would identify who we knew who could wear that style and question why life was so unfair etc. When I was younger some of my friends and I may have tried on clothes and had a fashion show of our own to see what style looked good on us. Still, we would have done this until we exhausted that conversation.  The thing is we would be totally happy because we talked and talked, laughed, maybe cried but we were heard.

It appears God made some of us to enjoy talking but for some reason, He made others who dislike having hour-long conversations about random subjects. 

My husband is really my best friend.  He has my back and I have his but we communicate differently. I like using lots of words to describe or to explain whenever I talk and he likes to use as few words as possible.  He is simply not going to enjoy some of the conversations that I want to have and that’s why I need my girlfriends or my sisterfriends as I am known to call ladies that are close to me.

Have you ever felt like that? I hope you have reached out to others to establish some sisterfriend relationships. We need each other. We want to communicate and connect. Sometimes we need to be brave to connect or to make a connection with someone else but you must get out to make connections.  I think it is even more important with so many of us relying on text to communicate. That just does not take the place of face to face communication.  Here is an example of what I did once when reaching out to establish friendships.

When my husband, our young daughters and I relocated to PA I attended a women’s bible study and met some ladies that way.  It was great. We laughed, talked and prayed for one another.  We all were busy living our lives but we took time to connect even if only on Sundays and Wednesdays.  One summer maybe a 2 or 3 years later after we had met, I wanted to take a swimming class because I was scared of the water but I didn’t want to do it by myself.  My husband knew how to swim and our daughters were young but felt comfortable in the water.  So, let me say it probably would have been frustrating for both Rod and me if he attempted to teach me how to swim. It just would not work so I needed outside lessons.  I didn’t think anyone would want to take the time to do anything like that with me.  I mean grown women taking a swimming class when they are already busy, who would do that?  Besides, probably everyone in the world knew how to swim but me.  I know that isn’t true but I could have come up with a hundred reasons to chicken out of making those phone calls.  However, I was brave and vulnerable, risking being turned down and I called these three beautiful women: an older Latina woman, a black woman and a white woman who were near my age.  Okay, I know some of you are asking why did you include race and ethnicity in the description.  Well, I did it purposefully because it’s okay to reach out to people who look or sound different than you and I wanted you to know that.  That’s all.  Still, the bottom line is all three of them said yes, I was shocked and happy.  Once a week we met up at the “Y” to blow bubbles in the water and try to swim.  We established deeper friendships, two that continue to this day, 20 years later.  I still cannot swim but I can blow some mean bubbles in the water! ?

So here are some Hope Keys to help with Relationships:

  1. ACCEPTANCE – There are some things you and your significant other must accept about one another. You probably will not communicate the same but you must continue to work on understanding each other. Both of you may need to stretch some and be flexible when it comes to having conversations. Recognizing the need for flexibility and acceptance can help ease some of the friction that may come with communication.
  2. ACCOUNTABLE – Your significant other cannot and should not be expected to fulfill all your needs. You are responsible for reaching out to get what you need to make your life better.
  3. RISK – Take a risk and decide to make a friend. Go out to dinner or lunch, invite someone over for brunch one weekend or share a ride to work or church. Treat one another for a cup of coffee or tea and just talk to get to know one another. We need one another. Take the first step.
  4. REVISIT – When you are having some difficulties communicating or understanding differences (whether it is between yourself and a significant other, you and a co-worker, or a friend), you may want to keep in mind we see and understand the world through our individual experiences and therefore we can look at or hear the same thing and perceive things differently. So, if needed, revisit a conversation and make sure you both are on the same page. One way of doing that is to seek clarification. For example, you may say, let me tell you what I think you just said in my own words.  If they say, no that is not it.  Then revisit again until you both get it.

~ Dr. Angela

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Dr. Angela M Cambell

Dr. Angela M Campbell