Article IIa. The A-B-C's of Good Communication:
                  A, B, & C Should Always Be the Same

by Reuben E. Gross, PhD, ABP, ABPP, LMFT


Getting the True Message Across is the Essence of Communication

Summary: Both speaker and listener play an important role in bringing about good communication. The speaker should say what he truly means and be clear and unambiguous in his statements. The listener should be fully attentive. Both should take precautionary steps to avoid misinterpretations. Examples of breakdowns in communication between partners are given to illustrate the points made in this article. Since neither gender wins an Emmy for communication, to be fair to both genders, I will use "he" and "she" at different times with the understanding that all of my points are relevant to both genders.

People Communicate Both Facts and Emotions

Happy Couple Holding Hands & Communicating People communicate to request information or to transfer information to each other. Sometimes the information consists of concepts, facts, or data. At other times it consists of emotions, feelings and attitudes. In a business setting, at school, and generally speaking outside of the home, the facts are more important and the emotions are secondary. TV's star detective, Sgt. Friday, invariably put it this way when he interviewed a witness to a crime: "Just the facts, Ma'am."

However, with regard to the progression, growth, and improvement of personal relationships, emotions play a primary role. With people who aspire to be close, such as husband and wife, an honest, respectful, reciprocal sharing of feelings, attitudes and emotions is of fundamental importance in building the relationship. Understandably, this sharing is valuable only when there is an adherence to the basic facts of the situation, rather than distortions or misinterpretations by either partner.

The Goal of Communication is to Get The True Message Across

When the process of  getting the  message across breaks down, the failure may be due to a shortcoming on the part of the speaker, listener or both. At the risk of oversimplifying a complicated matter, let's break down the communication process into three components: "A," "B," and "C."

Overview of the A-B-C's of Good Communication

Let "A" represent the exact thoughts or emotions of the speaker.
Let "B" represent the actual words that come out of the speaker's mouth.
Let "C" represent what the listener "hears" i.e. his understanding or interpretation of what was said.

In a Perfect Communication "A" = "B" = "C"

Couple Talking To Eachother "Let Thine Ears Hear What Your Mouth Speaketh"  --Talmud-Brachot

Ideally, the person wants to convey his true thoughts on the subject ("A"), expresses those exact thoughts in words ("B"), and is understood by the listener ("C") exactly as the communication was intended to be conveyed. Let's explore this matter further:

In a healthy relationship, it is the speaker's right and responsibility to say what is on his mind i.e., share his thoughts and feelings with his partner. Colloquially, many people praise themselves with, "I say what I mean and I mean what I say." In such a case, what he has on his mind, and what he actually says is the same. Full communication includes positive as well as negative sentiments. A good communicator will transmit such positive sentiments as love, praise and appreciation, but he will also carefully express such negative sentiments as anger, hurt, disappointment, jealousy or other painful emotions when he believes that tactfully conveying these emotions will be helpful to the relationship. A good communicator is aware that even negative feelings can be expressed sensitively and in a constructive manner, and he will do so when necessary because he knows that these feelings are an important part of the relationship and that sharing them is the path to the recognition and solution of problems. When a person is skilled at expressing both positive and negative thoughts and emotions, we have the first part of an excellent communication process since "A"= "B" and the listener gets to hear exactly what is on the speaker's mind.

End of Artice IIa: "The ABC's of Good Communication"

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