A healthy relationship is built on several foundations, all of which are important but one of which is essential: good communication. The foundation of any good relationship is a respectful back-and-forth between two or more parties.
I have been lucky to work with many excellent communicators since becoming a teacher. Honesty, promptness, kindness, and openness are not just their credo, they are their day-to-day practice. By practice, I mean that good communication is where the rubber meets the road, where we prove, not just say, that we value others. Good communicators go beyond good intentions.
We may have the best of intentions, we may have affinity, respect, and admiration for our friends, family, colleagues, teachers, and others we interact with, but if we don't actually communicate well, our intentions and feelings are in vain. To use a cliche, when we don't communicate well, we don't walk the talk.
Good communication causes relationships to flourish and multiply. It engenders a virtuous cycle that brings people together harmoniously so that real work can be done. It causes flowers to bloom in a desert. You don't need to go into the details to see that poor or non-existent communication, on the other hand, is literally harmful.
Relationships, whether between people or between nations, are prone to many problems that arise from poor communication: We misunderstand, we overreact, we project, we avoid the truth, we blame others, we rationalize, we become defensive. The list of missteps is long. As one philosopher put it, "Hell is other people." I'd wager that he wasn't very good at communicating. Yes, relationships can be hellishly difficult, but when we communicate, we take on the responsibility to work out these difficulties. Hell may be "other people," but something heavenly can be achieved on this earth with good communication.
But here's the problem with communication: It takes two. Only when two people (or nations) are willing to communicate with each other do the benefits start to flow. Just as in a game of tennis, it takes two to play. No one pays money to watch a tennis player hit balls against a wall. The magic in the game, in any game, lies in the communication, the honest back and forth.