Understanding how to communicate and express in our relationships Written by Brendan Mooney Psychologist
We are generally encouraged to communicate effectively in our relationships, but what does it really mean to communicate and express?
Unfortunately, we often do not fully communicate or express how we truly feel. Sadly, this way of living can result in a whole host of issues, such as another misunderstanding us, complication in conversation, and in some cases it may even lead to another having a completely distorted view of the truth. Difficulties with communication and expression can lead to dismissiveness, arguments, domestic violence, ending of relationships and on a larger scale even war between countries.
In general, women tend to be a little bit more versed in communicating and expressing compared to men, which can be reflective of the different ways girls and boys are raised by parents and/or teachers at school.
However, naturally, both men and women have an equal capacity to be communicative and expressive.
This comes from the fact that both men and women are by nature deeply sensitive, even though many try hard to hide this fact in various obvious or not so obvious ways. And because we are so sensitive, there is much for us to deeply express how we feel about people and life.
Communication and expression, perhaps there is a difference between the two?
Expression is generally understood in its broader meaning, in the creative arts for instance expression can signify more than just words. It is the same with our expression with others – there is often more to it than just words. A deeper unspoken meaning and a more worldly quality can characterize expression.
Is it possible that communication is related to talking in a more direct or specific way? For example:
A boss says to an employee, “Well done in that meeting, you were confident, you spoke clearly and your points came across well.”
Whereas with expression it may still contain direct communication but it might be in a way that is more worldly and includes everyone or confirms a bigger picture. To use the same example where expression is used instead of communication:
“How you delivered that presentation changed the whole dynamic of the group and took the meeting to the next level, well done.”
Learning to use communication and expression when appropriate is the key to successful relationships with others. Both are of equal importance and one is not less than the other, but if we only communicate and lack expressing then we keep our interactions at a certain level.
If we do the opposite of this and rarely communicate but mostly express our expression may not have the foundation that practical communication can offer. People who have this tendency may feel like other people ‘don’t understand’ or don’t get their ‘big picture view’.
Similarly those who communicate more than they express can also feel as though they are not understood but this will more likely be because they are presenting a small picture or a mere fragment of something much more worldly that they could otherwise express.
Of note is that we are actually communicating and expressing all the time, and we cannot stop this. But what are you communicating and expressing to all those in your life? Is it how you truly feel or is it a communication and expression that is coming from your hurts for example – ‘I’m not confident’, ‘don’t trust me’, ‘keep your distance or I might bite’ etc.
And of very important note is that we communicate and express not just by our words, but also in the way we move our body. It is a common fact that most of our communication and expression occurs non-verbally, around 90% actually, and hence it is about letting people know how you truly feel with your whole body
If we do not fully communicate and express, conversations and situations are essentially left unresolved or feeling incomplete, which builds a tension in our bodies. And when lack of communication and expression becomes a way of life as it is for many, these unresolved instances accumulate and build up to become essentially a heavy load of unresolvedness for a person. To cope with this tension and load, we often engage in unhealthy behaviours which may alleviate symptoms but cannot address the build-up of tension in the first place.
Communicating and expressing how we truly feel is a natural way to live. Whilst we may think we cannot do it (we have all had times when we tried to express something and choked up), we ought to remember that it is not that we cannot do it but simply that we are out of practice.
Every day we can choose to communicate and express to others how we truly feel, and not only will we feel much lighter as a result, but we will also bless all those around us.
More will be written in an upcoming series of articles on this topic. If you would like to read more be sure to subscribe to receive email updates.
BIOGRAPHY Psychologist Brendan Mooney works with adults, adolescents and children. With a genuine interest in people's well-being, Brendan brings a warmth, practicality and an equality that supports clients to truly address underlying issues and blockages that are preventing them from moving forward.