You and your partner will face communication issues at some point. Over time, people have difficulty getting across to one another. Emotions get in the way, the disconnect is frustrating, communication barriers go up and before you know it, a point is reached where you rather not talk. Fortunately, communication is a pretty easy fix but does require time. Here’s how to better communication in relationships.
Break down communication barriers
There is no room for barriers when it comes to communication in relationships. Good communication requires openness. The thing is, barriers are not broken just because you want them to go away. They don’t disappear when you tell someone, “I want to break down our communication barriers.” Barriers are broken down by gradual change. When it comes to communication barriers relationships, start by removing the criticism, blame and/or defensiveness from verbal interactions. Openness only occurs when both participants feel comfortable and safe. Ways to establish that comfort and safety are avoiding starting sentences with the very accusatory “you”, start expressing feelings with “I feel” or “I am” and make requests by leading with, “Can you” or I would appreciate it if you…”
Stay in the present
One sure way to upset someone is to bring up the past. When something prompts a negative response, that is a sign to stop. Communication in relationships must remain in the present because living in the past negatively affects the present. Keep any conversation, even the unpleasant ones, calm and respectful by focusing on the topic at hand. Referencing the past quickly turns small disagreements into huge arguments. Before you know it, completely unnecessary things are said and the relationship takes a hit. There is no reason to escalate something small.
Listen more than you speak
Another way to improve communication and learn the importance of communication in relationships is listening more than you speak. If you take the time to hear and process what the other person is saying, you will gain a better understanding of their side and he/she will understand you by doing the same. In the moment, we tend to catch onto little bits of what someone is saying but completely miss the full picture. This is the cause of people feeling misunderstood and as we know, misunderstandings lead to frustration and establishes barriers that are hard to break down. To implement this tip, give conversations more structure by not interrupting and focusing more on what a person is saying rather than what you plan to say next.
Watch nonverbal signs
Nonverbal communication is just as, if not more, important than verbal communication. Our body language and gestures say it all. A few examples would be crossed arms, an indicator of being closed off or feeling attacked, positioning the body away, an indicator of defensiveness and a lack of eye contact, a sign of either dishonesty or disinterest. Pay close attention to the person you are talking to. Good communication is like a dance that requires both parties to take cues from one another. If you are getting the feeling that you should back off or direct a conversation elsewhere, take the cue. When two people are able to read each other they become closer because a mutual understanding of boundaries is established.
Never underestimate the impact of honesty
Communication in relationships relies heavily on honesty. Honesty not only means speaking the truth. It also means being honest with yourself concerning your feelings and viewpoints. That is the only way to remain genuine and build a relationship in which communication is not an issue.
Timing is everything
Along with implementing the tips and techniques above, don’t forget about timing. When you want to have a conversation, do not initiate simply because you want to talk. Don’t interrupt your partner or expect him/her to drop their current task to chat. Rather, ask if they have a moment or if the two of you can speak later. Initiating conversation with an interruption adds an unnecessary irritant right at the start.
Always talk face to face
Even topics that are remotely important must be discussed face to face. Phone calls, texts, and emails only leave loose ends since they greatly reduce clarity. It is easy to misunderstand what someone is saying, especially in texts and emails. These forms of communication have a purpose but having meaningful conversations isn’t one of them.
Wait a day or two
When upset about something, of course, you want to make your feelings known. Definitely do that, but take one or two days to calm down and think the situation through. It is only natural to want to discuss an issue right when it happens but you need time. Even when the desire is strong, wait. You want to be the one to speak, not your anger. Anger uses nothing but negative and accusatory language.
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