Personally, I feel it’s near impossible to have a healthy, rewarding relationship with no. Sure, the level of required communication depends on your level of intimacy with the person you are communicating with. However, can open communication ever be destructive, even when the communicator believes they are providing a helpful message for the receiver? Think about what you are about to communicate, and then attempt to predict how your recipient is going to react. Is the message volatile or sensitive enough to destroy the relationship you currently have? If so, it’s best to think twice. Sounds easy enough, right?
Take this story, for instance. I know a woman that, for her entire life, carried resentment about how her father raised her. This story begins when she was 50 years old and her dad was 72. She felt she had been nurtured and supported as much as she needed when she was growing up. Her father was a”hard-liner”. We all know the type. In this letter she described how she felt about her relationship with her father. She pointed out many of the shortcomings in her life and how she felt that he was the cause of these because she”didn’t get what she needed from him”. She pointed these things out in a very polite manner; obviously assuming her father would understand and feel compassion for her. What really happened was quite the opposite. The father was very upset after reading her letter and believed that he was being assaulted. What was once an acceptable relationship was broken beyond repair. At the time the daughter wrote the letter, she believed it would help her to get those things off her chest and didn’t take time to contemplate how her father would cope with such things.
The case above could be considered”bad communication” as it damaged the relationship it had been intended to improve. Here are some things you may want to consider before initiating a discussion with someone, especially when your message contains sensitive, blaming or possibly negative information.
1. What do you expect to accomplish with your message?
2. Try to predict how your audience will react. Are you ready for an unexpected outcome?
3. Is it so important that you get your message across that it’s worth the chance of breaking the relationship? Sometimes it may be, such as a case with a friend or partner.
4. If you predict that your message may cause undesirable effects, you might want to use a good friend or relative as a sounding board, so that you can clear your head of your thoughts. Even more so, it can be very beneficial for you to write the person a letter but not send it. I think this works better than spilling your guts to another party.
5. You can ask advice from a close friend or family member (especially if they know the receiver of this message). However, always make the final decision on what to do. Your adviser probably has nothing to lose and may not give you appropriate advice in the matter.
For that reason, care should always be taken on how to communicate sensitive information. Can communication be a bad thing? I think it always depends upon the circumstances. Sometimes you will need to decide to hold back or lose the relationship.