How does communication affect the quality of close relationships?
Intimate and supportive relationships are an important factor in dealing with conflict. Dr Lisa Berkman suggests that the extent to which we maintain our close relationships determines how we protect ourselves against biological, environmental and interpersonal assaults. Poor communication skills are the largest contributor to conflict in relationships.
The effects of poor communication on a relationship can threaten the existence of a relationship itself. The symptoms of communication breakdown include feeling like the other person is not listening, arguing constantly, feeling like nothing of substance is being said and of course, acting defensively. Poor communication can chip away at self-esteem and self-confidence.
Good relationships are built on trust, honesty, openness and mutual respect. The path to developing good productive, caring and supportive relationships is built by developing effective listening skills, probably the most important aspect of good interpersonal communication. Listening empathically is important in terms of demonstrating an understanding of the other person’s point of view.
Another aspect of relationship development is the ability to stay focused, on the other person, on the present and on feelings. Relationships are built on compromise and on finding solutions of mutual benefit, and of caring for oneself and others, trying to be a winner in a relationship simply does not work.