Communication in Relationships


By Abigail Kishimoto, Head Culture Co-Writer

Photos from McKendree University, and stock.adobe.com

Communication is at the center of every relationship you have had, whether it be the relationship you have with a significant other, with friends, in athletics, or even in the classroom. I would argue that communication is the most important aspect of relationships, especially when in college. College is a time when most are experiencing independence for the first time, and with that comes a lot of new experiences when it comes to relationships. 

When you come to McKendree, you are introduced to a new student body from which you will choose friends and romantic partners. You may also be a part of a new sports team where you build relationships with teammates and coaches. Additionally, you will be in classes with professors that you will build relationships with to help you succeed at McKendree and beyond. All of these require effective communication to be successful. 

Communication is only beneficial to a relationship when there is clear communication and effective listening. It is common that clear communication is hindered when we use “You” statements instead of “I” statements; for instance, telling your partner “You always ignore me” rather than “I feel like I am being ignored” can cause the person to feel like they are being criticized. When this happens, the original message is not heard, and effective listening is no longer a possibility. To be an effective listener, it is important to have empathy and actively listen to everything that someone tells you. If you can master these skills, you will be a great communicator in all types of relationships. 

Since college is a time when you learn so many important lessons about relationships and how to communicate effectively, I asked some communication students at McKendree who study what advice they had for people in different aspects of relationships. 

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Amber Gillam

First, I asked senior Amber Gillam, what advice she has regarding romantic relationships. She said, “You should be able to say ‘no’ when you feel uncomfortable about something in your romantic relationship, you should be able to communicate what you do and do not like about your relationship to your romantic partner, and taking time and space to process can be very beneficial if the goal is to grow and not to purposefully hurt the other person. I think this advice is helpful in every relationship no matter the obstacles or benefits of the relationship.” 

Amber brings in many important points, and I would argue that everyone should listen to her advice! I think that in romantic relationships, there is a tendency to not communicate with your partner if something is making you uncomfortable, because you love that person and don’t want to hurt their feelings. 

Additionally, Amber brings in a great point when she says that it is important to talk to your partner when there is something that needs to be changed. I know that I’ll often talk to my friends about an issue in my romantic relationship before I talk to a romantic partner, so I will definitely be taking that advice with me!

That said, I think that it is also still important to talk to your friends and have effective communication in friendships! Morgan Sterrett, a senior here at McKendree, says: “Communication is important in friendships because it allows you to be open with how you are feeling and will bring you closer with someone long term.”

Morgan Sterrett

I also talked with senior Haley Rey, who related her current experience with effective communication in her friendships: “During such a busy time in my life, I find that I communicate with friends a lot less than I used to; however, there are good ways to keep up with people! I try to text my friends on campus to ask if they want to eat lunch together, or try to hangout in the evenings if there is time. I also Facetime long distance friends when our schedules align. The best way to keep friendships alive is through regular and casual communication – leave the small talk out if you want to keep a deeper connection. Talk to the person with the same comfortability as you did when you saw each other every day. This can be tough, but with practice, it can be done!”

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Haley Rey

Haley brings in great points when she reminds us that even if you cannot talk with your friends every second of the day, friendships can be maintained through clear and effective communication.

Additionally, I talked to Jamari Johnson, a senior and football player here at McKendree, about effective communication in athletics. He offered me this quote from Nat Turner that he lives by when he is out on the field: “Good communication is the bridge between confusion and clarity.” 

By following Jamari’s advice, you will be able to improve your teamwork in athletics, so I advise that you follow his advice! I was also able to talk with Quin Atchison, a junior on the women’s hockey team, and she offered this insight: “Good communication is important to create a good atmosphere for the team to achieve their goal. Everyone plays an important role on each team and understanding the importance of each role comes through open communication and a positive environment.”

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Jamari Johnson

Last, but certainly not least, it is important that you use effective communication in the classroom when working with your professors. I asked professor Dr. Sara (Trask) Frank what advice she had for effective communication between students and professors. She advised, “It’s never too late to open the lines of communication. I think many students think that at a certain point in the semester, it is too late to reach out to their professor, whether it be for class assistance, building a relationship, or mentorship! It’s never too late!”

It’s likely that most professors here would agree with Dr. Frank’s advice, so make sure that you work to build those relationships with your professors. Additionally, if you are emailing your professors, remember to be professional; emails are not the same as text messages. Many professors take email etiquette seriously, and it is also an important step in the communication process! 

As I said, there are so many times that communication is used in the building and maintenance of relationships, especially in your time at McKendree! Take some time to reflect on how effective your communication is with romantic partners, friends, teammates, and professors. If you feel like it could use some work, you can begin to make improvements by following the above advice of your fellow Bearcat family! 

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