Couples, no matter how diverse, seem to struggle with many of the same problems when it comes to communication. Their communication resembles a dance, around and around they go- nobody wins, nothing is resolved, and nobody feels good. Rather than communicating in an effective way, their communication consists of judging, assuming, attacking, interrupting, invalidating, and neglecting to communicate at all. Below I have listed 8 skills that can improve the communication in almost any relationship. Take a look.
Communication Skill 1
Put the phone down, and love the one you are with. When you are out to dinner or spending time together put your phone away. When your partner is trying to talk to you and you are looking at your phone, whether you realize it or not, your body language is telling your partner that you do not care about their feelings or what they have to say. Your body language is actually screaming, “This game or the person I am texting is more important than you!” Healthy relationships don’t exist without an investment. You must invest your time and nurture your relationship if you want it to grow. Practice being in one place at one time. Practice being with the one you are with. Your gaming friends and texting buddies might just have to wait.
Communication Skill 2
Listen without judging. Many of us have done it before. As soon as our partner begins to speak, we begin assessing whether they are right or they are wrong. If we agree with them they are right, if we don’t, they are wrong. We judge and defend rather than listen and understand. It is important to realize that our partner’s perception of things is valid, whether we agree or not. Knowing that their perception is just as valid as our own, can help calm down the judge that lives within us. Remember, part of what has shaped our partner’s perception has been their life experiences which have been different from our own. You and your partner can argue all day about which color is prettier, orange or blue, but at the end of the day, where has the argument gotten you? Sometimes there is no right and wrong, but there is a difference in opinion. Seek understanding rather than being so quick to judge.
Communication Skill 3
Listen without interrupting. I know, you might forget what you have to say if you don’t blurt it out immediately. You have a really important point to make and if you don’t say it right now, the thought might get lost…gone forever. Believe me, I have been there, but here is the problem. Interrupting tells the other person that you value what you have to say more than what they have to say. When you interrupt you are putting your own thoughts and opinions above your partners. Whether you agree with what your partner is saying or not, let them finish what it is they are trying to tell you.
Communication Skill 4
Listen without planning your reply. We are sometimes so busy mentally rehearsing our reply that we miss half the conversation. When you find yourself heading in this direction, stop yourself and focus on what your partner is saying.
Communication Skill 5
Avoid jumping to an immediate “fix”. Sometimes your partner may just need to vent, and the only thing he or she needs is someone to be quiet and listen. Maybe he or she just needs to process something out loud so that he or she can fix the problem themselves. Listen and ask if there is anything you can do to help without rushing in and assuming that you are expected to fix it.
Communication Skill 6
Repeat what you have heard. Many times what someone says and what we hear are very different. Just the other day I had a married couple in my office. When the husband said, “I am tired of coming home to a sink full of dirty dishes,” the wife heard him say, “You are a failure as a wife.” As you can imagine, the wife’s strong reaction had more to do with what she heard rather than what was actually said. If your partner says something that upsets you, always ask for clarification to make sure that what was said is the same as what you heard.
Communication Skill 7
Ask for what you want. No matter how long you and your partner have been together, he or she still might not know what you are thinking. Spell it out! Ask for what you want! Want a hug? Ask. Need a little extra comforting? Ask! Don’t get angry at your partner when your needs are not met, when you haven’t spelled out exactly what it is you need at the time. Your partner may have a lot on his or her mind, and may not have picked up on your clues. Play no guessing games. Spell out exactly what you need.
Communication Skill 8
Use “I” statements. When you are upset with your partner, tell your partner how their behavior made you feel rather than attacking your partner. When you attack your partner and begin your sentences with “You”, your partner is likely to become defensive and miss your message. “I feel unimportant to you when you are on your phone so much,” works a lot better than “You are always on that #$%& phone!”
For more relationship tips, check out the links below.