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Communication is not limited to verbal expression. Body language, tone, sign language and many other tools are usually used to communicate a message.

Most relationships breakdown due to a breakdown in communication. When on the receiving end of communication, our perception of the message received is influenced by our past experiences, values, beliefs and other environmental factors. When a message triggers a strong emotional reaction in us such as love, anger, sadness or joy, our reaction is influenced by the factors mentioned above.

Our response can teach us about ourselves as much as the message can teach us about the messenger.

Maintaining this awareness in mind, we can become effective communicators as we view the messenger and the message with a new perspective.

Example; When my husband tells me that one of my choices upset him, my first reaction is to become defensive and angry. This is likely to be because I take criticism as an indication that "I am not good enough". At times like this, I can become consumed with anger towards the messenger. Of course the way the message is delivered will play a great role in how emotionally involved I become. By maintaining awareness of the influence of my underlying beliefs, I am likely to be able to recognise that in this message there could be personal growth for me and an opportunity to strengthen the relationship. After all is the message really telling me that I am a failure or is this my perception of it? What my husband is in fact communicating is his need. Through recognising what the message is about, I am able to clearly decide if I am able to support my husband to meet his need without jumping to the conclusion "I am not good enough".

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