Communication is a way of expressing our feelings and ideas as well as understanding others’ feelings via a verbal and non-verbal medium. However, the communication process is a far more complex function with many complex factors that have an effect on the transmission of the information from a sender to the receiver while communicating. These include our emotions, belief systems, cultural situations, the medium being used to communicate, and even the location affects the communication process (Goman, n.d.).
Being a young Arab woman, coming from a conservative background, it was a challenge to survive in the US, a land with an entirely different culture, language, and norms. These differences affected me and urged me to search for the depth of communication. It was the time when I decided to explore this field and started working on its notions to develop and manage relationships as a wife, as a mother, as a student as well to work effectively with others. Communication is not just a solo process; it is a combination of multiple factors to give a certain meaning such as the way of communication, body language, and eye contact plays an essential role in effective communication (speaking that connects, 2012).
Communication: The World Beyond the Words
I strongly believe that communication is enriched with a deeper sense of emotions. Communication is not as simple as it looks, it is something beyond what people think. People, especially women, can communicate better than the average man and find communication is the best way to express their emotions (6 Reasons Why Women Communicate Better Than Men | Likely, 2019). Throughout my communication career, I have dealt with many people from Autism to Addiction, mental health challenges & family difficulties.
We have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak.
Effective communication is the most important factor for the growth of every relationship and the lack of communication can destroy or damage relationships at home as well as the workplace. The majority of the problems are initiated due to communication breakdown in marriages, this leads to divorce at 65% where 43% of couples are not able to resolve their issues (Lack of Communication Is One of the Lead Causes of Divorce, 2019). Workplaces are also affected due to inadequate communication. According to the survey done with 400 companies having 100,000 employees, it was found that each company has an average loss of $62.4 million per year due to poor communication among employees (The Cost of Poor Communications, 2020).
Based on my over 30 years of experience, working in the communication field with multiple cultural backgrounds, in different parts of the world, I believe that everyone has the right to communicate and express their emotions and feelings with their full potential as well as needs, to be understood accordingly. That’s what kept me going and thriving to be able to serve in this field and to encourage people to have what I have, not only for the knowledge & the education I persuaded but for the productivity I gained in integrating with others, regardless of where I’ve lived or moved as an Arab single mother, traveling the world to make her dreams become a reality.
One of the things I had to do to share the discovered treasure of communication was the establishment of the Duha Center for Communication & Social Guidance & adapting the British Center in Bahrain Nans for excellence. Those were my stations, to deliver the needed holistic program & to provide quality services to families, teens & children with communication impairments, intellectual disabilities, and other communication difficulties in trilingual languages (Arabic, English & French).
With my experience during teaching the children with Autism, I found communication as an essential life skill for improving their all kinds of communication impairments even if they are unable to define their words and feeling properly, proper communication therapies and conversation sessions can do wonder for them. In the past, Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) was not considered so important to address and treat, but now it should be addressed with a different mindset and thought through proper communication (Why Teach Communication? – VCU Autism Center for Excellence, n.d.).
Another experience I came across dealing with my clients was, those who are suffering from addiction, communication plays as a strong connection in dealing with their problems before getting into addiction. As a result, to treat this serious distress, communication plays an essential role that can push the addicts out of their codependency and get into the recovery. As stated by Alta Mira (premier residential treatment center for alcohol and drug addicts), Addiction to anything such as alcohol and drugs, first of all, causes communication disorder including slurring words, improper speech, comprehension problems, and sometimes use of abusive words (Communication Disorder and Addiction Treatment).
Mental and emotional health is very important in our lives because it affects our thinking and feelings. Being able to communicate how we feel can help others to understand us better – and we all want to be understood. However, mental distress can affect communication, so there are times when it can be much harder to find the words – even to articulate people.
General practitioners (GPs) reported the highest learning needs regarding specific communication skills and treatment of the most common mental health problems.
A study investigated GP’s self-efficacy and self-perceived learning needs regarding communication and mental health treatment applying different methods in building a therapeutic relationship with clients. Active listening is a main component of communication that can establish a good communication to produce positive patient/client/service – user outcomes can help speed both physical and mental recovery.
One of the challenges for the GP in treating patients with mental health problems is to develop adequate clinical communication skills. A GP’s communication may influence a patient’s mental health through a number of different pathways. In a much-cited review, a study showed that communication skills are associated with several positive patient outcomes such as higher patient satisfaction, better patient adherence, and symptom resolution. Stewart (Mental Health Fam Med.2012)
In spite of the documented importance of communication skills in treating patients with mental health problems and a large number of such patients in general practice, many GPs do not receive specific communication skills training with relevance for mental health after medical school. This includes general skills suitable for all types of patients, such as asking open-ended questions and eliciting the patient perspective, and mental-health-related skills, such as handling denial and suicidal risk, and dealing with other mental health patients. A psychiatrist, Marry Moller (1996) stated that, Individuals with Mental Illness also have Communication Disorders. Those kinds of disorders are related to brain disorders which affect their abilities to communicate.
Good communication can help in addressing conflicts in a functional way and family members can be heard & stayed connected to one another.
All my experiences regarding communication with a variety of people have convinced me that communication is not only words or a fixed process! Instead, it is a tool that reflects the ability one has to respond to the behaviors of others and the circumstances of daily life.
Communication is important in every aspect of our life and the realization of this importance led me to explore every challenge I faced in my life as a person, as an entrepreneur and as a specialist.
Communication is like a drop in an ocean! As much as we work toward bringing ourselves into the willingness to dive in and through us, as much as will be succeeded in achieving and revealing our inner beauty as well as other’s!
I believe that communication has been my key to unlocking any challenges I have been through in life, emotionally, physically, professionally, and in every other aspect of my life. Therefore, I’ve just established The Middle East Resilience Institute with my western partner, when I had to come back to my hometown due to losing one of the children, to be able to carry on providing the combined services I had been working on through my previous two centers beside continuing seeking Ph.D. in my field.
In conclusion, communication is deeply intertwined with human life and serves as the foundation of a healthy mind and body. Though communication is a key ingredient in mental health recovery, it is the key to unlock our inner wellbeing that ultimately reflects on our outer world. Therefore, it is essential to accomplish a healthy communication before knocking on the doors of psychiatrists and mental health therapists. Most of the problems can be solved through a healthy conversation, and it should be viewed as a dynamic, continuous, and irreversible ongoing process.
Dr Asya Bin Mahfooz, Founder and Director at DUHA Center for Communication and Social Guidance, is a passionate and driven Communication specialist, a woman with a strong and a compassionate heart who reaches out for those who need it most!
She graduated as one of the 10 outstanding students in the class at Marylhurst University in the USA.
She returned to Saudi Arabia, had completed the Speech & Language Internship, and worked as a Communication, Speech and Autism therapist. Mother of three children, she had to leave Saudi chasing her dreams as a Saudi woman. After years of living in USA she moved to Bahrain in 2003 with her children, to obtain her Master, become an entrepreneur, and establish her business and center to help the society, (Duha Center for Communication & Social Guidance).
She carried on her journey of learning and evolving, attending many life and self-development coaching/ trainings around the world including: USA, UK, Australia, Fareast and in many Arab countries.