I like to think of myself as a good writer. At the very least, I try to be a careful writer. I steer away from ambiguous words, and try to illustrate my point in several ways (when I have a point, that is). This prevents others from taking what I write the wrong way, or inferring something that isn’t there.
These skills are also important in relationships. Since communication is so important, it’s also important to be clear in your use of language. Euphemism, innuendo, and vague word choices can set you up for some disastrous results. I wrote about this before when talking about how “sex” can even be defined differently depending on our boundaries or by the circumstances. Ambiguity is the enemy of art, to paraphrase Stanislavski, and it’s also the enemy of healthy communication.
For example, when setting boundaries, it’s important to be clear what you mean. Saying, “I’m not interested in a serious relationship” leaves way too much room for creative interpretations. “Relationship” could mean several things, and “serious” – what the hell is that? The person saying it could mean ” I don’t have a lot of time to devote to a partner right now, but I’d be interested in an ongoing friendship with benefits,” but to the person hearing it, it could mean “I’m just interested in having fun for tonight, be gone before breakfast,” or vice versa. Besides, you can’t regulate something like emotional attachment. Things you can regulate are concrete things like actions, time and space constraints and priorities. Rules that work are “No dates during the week,” “Never hook up while drunk,” “No sleeping over when I’m home,” or “My primary relationship comes first over any others.” There is no wiggle room on those. They are clear, concrete and well defined.
Another example is in reporting activities to a partner. “We fooled around” could mean just kissing to one partner, but to the other could mean oral sex. But in some cases, that phrase is acceptible if there is further information included. “We fooled around, but didn’t go very far. Just some touching.” That’s still vague, but it established some clearer parameters without getting into potentially uncomforable details: at least the partner knows that there was no oral or penetrative sex. Fair enough.
Clear communication means eliminating guesswork. Unless a person has all of the pertinent information, they can’t make an informed decision. And everyone has the right to make an informed decision.