Failure to communicate

In an age defined by the ease and access of communication—where there are more ways to connect than there are religions—somehow, people are still getting it wrong. That’s what the recent love and dating panel at UVU had to say, anyway.

The National Communication Association Student Club hosted the panel in the Sorensen Student Center on Oct. 3. There were nearly 50 students there, attending either for extra credit, free cookies or to get some insight on how this crazy little thing called love actually works.

The panel was billed as the place “where all your dating concerns can be answered,” a claim that may not have been nearly as bold as when it first appeared, since the answers boiled down to one simple idea: healthy communication.

“We’re not making an effort to actually make contact and interact with each other—we’re letting technology get in the way,” said Farah Sanders, one of the panelists who works as public relations and speech communication faculty at UVU.

The panel was a mixed-bag of experience, ranging in age, education, specialty and marital status. The diversity of the group demonstrated the complexity and singularity of relationships.

On the panel was, of course, Sanders, whose delivery made it seem that she could handle the most muddled relationship issue with almost surgical precision. Joining her was Jeremy Boden, Andrew Stone, LeeAnn Glade and Amber Bruderer, each drawing from their personal perspectives.

Bruderer, the secretary of NCAS, who represented the student demographic with a girl-next-door attitude, said, “In relationships, communication is what gets us the most, just not understanding the opposite sex.”

She went on to discuss how communicating needs, feelings and expectations can actually make a person more attractive.

Polling the men in the audience, she asked, “If you can clearly know what she wants, that’s attractive to you, right?” The question was met with many nods in agreement.

Continuing on the panel’s theme, Boden, a full-time faculty member in the behavioral science department at UVU four weeks away from finishing a doctorate in family studies, elaborated on why sometimes people fail at communication.

“Communication breaks down when people are afraid to risk,” Boden said. “Somebody is not able to risk their real feelings because they don’t feel safe. Let’s get it down to that, where you can feel safe to say what you want to say.”

The panelists emphasized how important it is that communication be in person. Sanders said that she and her husband have set boundaries within their relationship to make sure they’re putting forth that effort.

“[My husband] and I don’t interact on Facebook with each other,” she said. “We make sure that our communication is happening at home and happening one-on-one with each other.”

Boden continued, “Intimacy, what we know, takes kind of this ‘talk, time and togetherness,’” he said. “That’s what creates intimacy, and if you’re only talking and you’ve been dating for a long time, that’s nice, but you don’t have this ‘togetherness.’”

The panel’s answer to anybody who wants to feel a real, human connection was to unplug, make an effort and take a risk.

Alex Sousa is studying journalism in UVU’s communication department. He’s serving as the managing editor at the UVU Review as well as the editor of the music blog on uvureview.com. He’s had experience working as a freelance writer and also as a copy writer at a marketing agency. Currently he’s working as the Editor-in-chief of the Utah Tech Magazine, an interactive, digital publication. He’s a Utah native who’s traveled around the world; having lived in Mexico, backpacked through Europe, studied in the Middle East and—for a time—been stranded in the Ukraine. He can be found on Facebook and he’s available on Twitter @TwoFistedSousa or by email at aljosousa@gmail.com.

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