Communication Help: The Music Behind Your Message

To experience music is to experience life. It has the power to shape our moods, stir up old memories, and inspire us to live more fully. Most of us can immediately think of a song that can put a smile on our face, make us want to move our bodies, or stir sadness or longing. Music can make us elated or sad, it can help us find a more peaceful emotional center, or it can get us ramped up and excited.

The emotional and transformative power of music is often used in the production of movies, where a film score creates a particular emotional atmosphere for the moviegoer, one that helps us react in a particular way to what is happening to the characters. In these instances, the music is designed for a specific purpose (for instance, to make you feel sadness or sympathy for the protagonist; to create fear in anticipation of some foreboding danger).

What Impact Is the Background Music of Your Message?

Like the musical component of a movie, the messages you send to your spouse/partner often have a particular background melody that impacts how the listener experiences your message, oftentimes even more so than the content of what is being said.

All communication has a particular tempo, rhythm and energy. And if we are unaware of our own communication-background music, we remain oblivious to the impact we are having on our partner. Becoming more attuned to the way in which you communicate (aware of the music behind the content of your message) is essential for effective couples communication.

Until such awareness is cultivated, you may continually and unintentionally be undermining the communication process (for example, inadvertently making the listener defensive to what you are saying because of the way you are saying it).

Here are a few communication melodies you might want to be aware of:

  • Soft/gentle—harsh/jarring;
  • Excited/frenetic—mellow/peaceful;
  • Relaxed/centered—urgent/pressured;
  • Open/accepting—critical/judgmental;
  • Tender/loving—indifferent/callous;
  • Patient/tranquil—frustrated/impatient;
  • Humble/respectful—arrogant/bossy.

Remember, the melody behind your words has the power to dramatically shape the outcome of a particular communication exchange. Your communication melody can help to create an accepting atmosphere in which your partner remains open to what is being said, or the melody can create a backdrop that is strained and emotionally closed-off.

Reflecting on the way you communicate and taking the time to periodically ask yourself, “What is the energy and tempo behind what I am saying?” can go a long way in creating the communication musical score that best suits your intended message.

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