Communication is not only about words spoken. Words allow us to exchange information, but they are also the medium through which we communicate what is in our hearts.

Words are the paintbrush we use to create for another the picture of who we are. We would not (hopefully) go up to another person’s work of art and scribble all over it or black it out with dark paint. However, when we do not acknowledge what another is saying, thinking or feeling, the effect is the same.

For good communication to occur, we need to respect what the other is saying, even if we disagree.

To truly honour another, we need to allow him or her to speak without discounting either the person or what the person is saying. All too often, adolescents are not heard because parents “know best.”

Often a spouse is not heard because the partner needs to be “right” or does not want to hear the message being given.

When one is not heard, this results in resentment or withdrawal. After a while, efforts to communicate are abandoned, and the relationship grows distant. It is also difficult to trust someone who will not even listen to you.

One of the most powerful ways to enhance any relationship is to take the time to sincerely listen with the heart. It takes a little more time and patience, but the rewards are absolutely worth it.

Gwen Randall-Young is an author and award-winning psychotherapist.