photo of people talking to each other

Communication Skills are Overrated

I’ve always heard the importance of communication whether it be at work or in personal life. There’s been plenty of times when I’ve heard that communication is the most important aspect of a relationship, but is it? It’s not to say that communication isn’t important, but I’ve seen toxic relationships where people communicate.

I’ve seen people use communication in a one-sided way where only their needs are expressed and the other person is expected to fill those needs. The person expressing these needs doesn’t need to hear the needs of the other person. So, no I believe communication skills are overrated. If communication was that important, wouldn’t we all speak the same language?

If communication skills are overrated, what is the skill that we all need to maintain our relationships? The answer to that is a skill we all need practice with. It’s a skill that’s not taught to us at any level of education. That skill is acceptance of others.

A World Built on Conformity

The reason why we have so much negativity in our relationships is because we don’t allow others to be who they are. In just about every relationship, the goal seems to be to change the other person.

If parents don’t see a child going on the path that they foresee, they will try to change the child instead of accepting him for who he is. Peer pressure is the influence of friends to do something that someone may not want to do regardless of a harmful outcome. Students are all graded on the same standards even though we fully know that each student learns in different ways. Yet, we tell them to conform to teachers and authority figures outside the classroom. Employees are given a culture in which they must conform. They are equipped with “best practices” and performance reviews that will gauge if an employee fits the expectations of a manager.

If a person rebels against all these pressures it’ll create conflict. The conflict can be remedied if they are just understood and accepted. Communication can’t be the answer because it also takes communication to manipulate.

Maybe we’re using communication in the wrong way. Maybe communication isn’t used to voice one’s grievances but to ask questions to understand the viewpoint of the person they have a conflict with. In the other case, negativity only creates more negativity. Bringing up a grievance only causes defensiveness and more negativity. Do you truly believe that you are going to get the peace you need because you simply told someone and now you expect this person to change their behavior for you? Isn’t that a bit narcissistic? Why do we believe that other people owe us change?

Asking for Perfection

As much as we’d like to believe it, there’s no such thing as a perfect relationship. Everyone is flawed in their way, including you and me. If you truly believe that everyone should match your perception of what a person should be, you will always be in turmoil. You judge yourself as being better than a person because they don’t meet your expectations, you’re degrading this person based on ideas that are not yours. To expect someone to change because you want them to remove their autonomy due to wanting to please them, thus losing their dignity as a person. We rarely think about this because we only care about our needs and not how our actions affect others.

It’s better to learn how to live, work, and love with these flaws rather than trying to “fix” them with your words. Learning to accept others may bring mental frustrations for a time, but continuing to fight every person who doesn’t meet your idea for a person will be for a lifetime. It’s no different than bodily pain. None of us likes to get sick. However, when have a cold, I don’t negotiate with my words so that the cold goes away. We take care of our bodies and learn to live with whatever symptoms until the symptoms go away. We accept the cold and let it run its course. The best of source of medicine is learning the viewpoints between individuals. And laughter, laughter is the best medicine. If we don’t use communication in a way to try to understand people, communication as a skill is pretty worthless.