If I'm serious about improving my relationships there are four things I must do:
First, I must learn how and when to listen.
Second, I must learn a special way of talking and when to do it.
Third, I must learn to handle conflicts in such a way that no one ends up a resentful loser.
Fourth, I must establish and maintain an open dialogue with people who are most important to me.
Relationships are both built and destroyed by communication patterns. Open, honest communication is the basis for, the foundation of good relationships. Poor communication ruins them. It's that simple.
The purpose of interpersonal communication is understanding and being understood. I want to be especially clear about that. The purpose of interpersonal communication is understanding and being understood.
If you are upset about something and tell me about it, what is it that you want? Why would you talk to me? Isn't it because you want me to know what's going on inside of you, to understand the thoughts and feelings you are experiencing? If you didn't want me to know you wouldn't tell me.
If I want you to know about me I have to talk to you. What do I want from you? Understanding. There's a descriptive term for it: Empathy. Not sympathy, sympathy is about the listener. Empathy is a guess at how I feel, knowing what it must be like inside me and telling me what you understand it to be. If I want you to have empathy for me, know what its like being me, I have to tell you about myself as I really am. There's a descriptive term for this as well. It's called transparency. To have you understand me I have to become more transparent, more open, I must express more of who and what I really am.