Communication Problems in Relationships:
Who is to blame?

Many communication problems in relationships occur because of the way you interpret something that the other person said or did. But your interpretation is not the first thing you examine when you try to figure out what the problem is.

Causes of Communication Problems in Relationships

When communication breaks down, what you look at first is at the other person’s behavior.

The two of you don't communicate because he doesn't listen. She argues about everything. He never answers a direct question. She won't discuss important issues. He is always complaining.

Next, you assume you know what causes their behavior

Often it’s a personal flaw of some kind. He has a negative attitude. She has no self-discipline. He is too greedy. She is too jealous. He is not trustworthy. She has a lousy set of genes. He has no brains.

To top things off, you add what you assume motivates their behavior. She cares only about herself. He always has to be first or in control. She is obsessed with what others think. He enjoys being a jerk.

The role of beliefs in communication Problems in Relationships

Assumptions such as these put all the blame for communication problems on the other person. While this approach gets you off the hook, it does nothing to solve the problem. In marriages, families, and in the workplace it always makes the problem worse.

A better approach is to look at the part of the problem for which you are responsible. That part includes your beliefs about yourself and about the other person, as well as your own behavior. The two go together because your beliefs influence considerably how you feel about others and how you relate to them.

If you assume you are superior, you treat them as inferiors. If you believe they owe you obedience, you insist they obey you. If you believe you are more knowledgeable or wiser, you pay little attention to what they have to say. And if you believe they are out of control, you try to control them.

Should they resent your attitude, refuse to obey, disagree with your opinion, or resist your efforts to control, you point to their resentment, disobedience, and resistance as additional evidence your original assumptions were correct and your behavior justified.

The fact is, many of your assessments are full of holes because they are inaccurate and incomplete. What you know about the other person is always far less than what you do not know. And what you know about yourself is always incomplete as well.

Learning solves communication problems in relationships

To solve communication problems, challenge your assumptions about yourself and others. Your assumptions are language actions you use to label or to categorize people. To change the way you relate to them, use the power of language to change how you feel about them and how you interact with them.

Look for what is “right” about others to balance what you believe is “wrong” about them. Look for ways in which they are strong instead of focusing on where they are weak.

Ask yourself: In what way are you superior, in control, owed praise or obedience, or beyond reproach? Says who? Do others agree with you? Does their agreement matter to you?

Changes such as these often solve communication problems in relationships because others feel and see the difference in the way you treat them.

Learn how to develop your self-awareness so you can identify assumptions you hold that limit how you get along with others.

Effective Communication Coaching teaches you this skill and other communication skills.

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