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The best Valentine? A good relationship

February 12, 2008|By ARLENE RIVERA / Pulse Correspondent

With a few days left until Valentine's Day, most teens' thoughts drift toward loved ones or plans for that day. For those in relationships, Valentine's Day can serve as a time to analyze problems or attempt to fix them.

Communication is often a hidden obstacle in a relationship.

Area high school students interviewed for this story agreed that communication was a key component of a relationship. Communication allows for understanding and growth. Communication allows for conflicts to be resolved.

Lack of communication can lead to relationships falling apart.

"If you don't communicate, no matter how much you have in common, there will never be a rewarding relationship," says Jason Camarano, a 15-year-old sophomore at South Hagerstown High School.

Improving communication can sometimes be difficult to remedy. It is important to keep in mind that communication is not just about talking - it's also about listening.

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While having a discussion, Christina Smith, 17 and a South Hagerstown High School senior, says, "Always be honest about everything. The second trust is broken in a relationship, everything tends to fall apart." Honesty builds trust in a relationship while allowing growth.

Along with honesty, understanding each other while communicating is extremely important. Communicating without understanding can cause the same problems that stem from lack of communication. Misunderstandings from communication can occur from lack of clarity, confusing body language, or an honest confusion.

Communication without understanding is futile. While you are speaking, try to clarify your message, says South High teacher Hannah Ricci. It is better to say what you mean or what you want the person to get from the conversation than to leave everything to chance. If a person does not understand, attempt to explain in a different manner and continuously try to rephrase the message. South High teacher Scott Buhrman says, "Every person is different, but you have to try to get inside their head. While one can never be an effective communicator, it is important to keep on trying different methods."

When in doubt, there are ways to tell if the person you are speaking to understands or will understand. First of all, think before you speak - even though it is a phrase overused on children, it holds true. After or while you are speaking, observe the person. Body language can give you a hint to whether the person understands. To make sure, just ask the person if they understand - this is the most accurate way to know.

Sometimes the person you are trying to communicate with will not respond. The way you attempt to receive a response depends solely on the situation. For example, it is more difficult to have a person you do not know refuse to respond than a person you have an established relationship with. The best way to get a response from a person with no previous relationship is to keep on trying. However, if you have had a previous relationship - not necessarily dating - try a method that has worked before or ask if you know something is wrong.

"If you know something is wrong, ask," Ricci suggests. "If the person does not want to tell you, they probably are not ready to tell you. Wait a few days then ask again." Often a person initially will not respond because they need more time. Time can allow stronger emotions - like anger - to subside and clearer thinking to prevail.

Communication is difficult, but understanding each other is more important than shielding yourself from others when trouble occurs. One of the most important things to remember is that communication is a two-way street - not all about one person. If one method of communication does not work, there are plenty more to try. By rephrasing, you could help the other person understand more clearly.

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