From management to marriage: it stands or falls with communication. Insufficient attention to communicating with each other and insufficient attention to the relationship, go hand in hand in many areas.

A bad relationship is often the result of poor communication. But what is communication anyway? We easily say “we do not communicate well” but what is that thing that we do not do well actually? Often, in our minds, we limit communication to exchanging messages but there is more to it. It helps to think about what communication is and not take it for granted.

What is “communication” exactly?

There are loads of books written about it, but you could say that communication is something that two people do together, aiming to make their intentions clear to the other on a logically content, a practical, a relational and an emotional level.

Does that feel like it is unnecessarily complicated? Then check for a month at on how many ways people can misinterpret each other. Because believe me, when it comes to content, you can say it all in completely correct English but what’s left at the other end of your message is something completely different a lot of times.

So another question might provide more clarity: What is actually needed for meaningful communication?

1 – The desire to listen and hear what is being said to you.


2 – So make sure that your partner wants to communicate with you, that your partner has the hope to achieve together that what you are trying to achieve with the relationship you’re establishing through communication.


3 – The ability to communicate in a language that the other person understands.


4 – So make sure you have developed a language together so you can communicate with one another (Your part? What is your communication-language/style, and how do you teach your partner to speak it as well?)

Everyone has their own language…

We forget this easily. Everyone has their own language. Even if you both speak English. There is a lot to say about this as well, and is often discussed during my coaching, but let’s start at the very basic: if one speaks French and the other speaks English, and you both know the language of the other just a little, what is the best way to communicate?

A simple comparison, perhaps, but the way to learn to understand each other as good as possible when you (without realizing it) both speak a different language is a good comparison. Perhaps one speaks the language of a woman and the other speaks the language of a man. Perhaps one speaks through goals and the other through the process to achieve those goals. Maybe one speaks through metaphors and the other through steps.

Learn how to speak another language

If I want to learn a different language from someone, then I say something in the language of the other person and then I ask whether the other person understands what I’m trying to say. Sometimes I might also keep an object up and ask, “What do you call this?” And then I will keep using that word when I’m talking to you about that object.
I’m not going to say “no, you are saying it wrong. You should not call it “that”. You must call it “this”, the way I do.”

In this example one understands that it is really a lot easier to say “that” when I mean “this”. It speeds up the communication to talk the language of your listener.
And if you find that the other person is making an effort to teach you how to speak the language, then it is suddenly a lot less tedious to make an effort to speak the language of the other person.

Can you feel it coming?
The essence of communication is to find out if you got it right.
If you really felt the need to understand the other person, then you would ask if the other person understood what you said and you would ask if you properly understood what the other person has said.

You’re not going to be angry and start sulking because you do not get what you asked for to the other person in your own language. You’re trying to communicate to get what you want. … Now why should that be different in relationships (kinky or not)?

Hans says

And this is exactly the recipe you will get in virtually every communication training, on every level, no matter how expensive it might be. The one trainer/coach/therapist says it slightly different than the other trainer/coach/therapist (everybody has their own language of course *smiles*) but it always comes down to the following:

When I say “blah blah blah”, what do you hear me say?
I hear that you say “this, that and that”, but in my words I would say it like “that, this and that”. Do you understand this when I say this in my own language? Or do I understand you wrong?

First try this simple recipe together, the two of you, or with the three of you, with everyone involved individually… and if this does not clear things up, then it would be very wise to have a look at what is causing these communication errors together.

Some more tips from the communication theory of Schulz van Thun:

  • misunderstandings are rarely found in the technical content
  • but they are regularly found in what i think that is asked of me
  • they are sometimes found in the self-disclosures that you think you’re hearing from the other person
  • but they are found the most by far in what you think the other person is saying about your relationship …

If you would like to talk to Hans and learn more about his individual and relationship coaching approach, you can best reach him via Kink Aware Coaching.

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Hans

Hans has over a quarter of a century of experience in the mental health sector. Hans is a certified physiotherapist, psychotherapist and relationship coach. The debilitating effects of shame and taboos have always had his attention.

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