Communication is key. If you Google search communication tips, you’ll find dozens of websites with ideas and advice on how to increase your communication. Perhaps that’s what lead you here. The desire for improved communication in any relationship is strong. Before we dive into my top 5 tips for improved communication, let’s take a minute to think about what communication is and why it’s so crucial to the success of any relationship, whether it be romantic or not. Communicating effectively is something many individuals strive to achieve, whether in their professional or personal lives. It is through communication that we can meet our own needs as well as the needs of others. Effective communication allows us to be heard, feel heard, and pass that feeling onto another as we hear them. If you’re ready to have better communication, below are five tips you can use to your advantage:
1. Feelings Matter
The “I Feel” statement is a classic therapy technique for use when beginning a difficult conversation. This formulaic sentence structure can be used in a variety of situations for a myriad of issues and looks like this: “I feel (insert feelings) when you (insert behavior) because (insert how you’re affected by the behavior).” Ex: “I feel hurt when you came home late because I was really looking forward to spending time with you.” Kept it fact based, don’t generalize, and keep it to a certain situation. Communicating with your partner is this way release him/her from the personal blame which often accompanies arguments and prevents you from attacking by saying something like, “You’re so lazy for never folding the laundry!”
2. Stay Open
In order to communicate effectively, you need to be open with your partner, mentally, physically, and spiritually. This means making eye contact with your partner when speaking with her/him and maintaining open body language. While it may be hard to do if you’re still mad at your partner, checking your body language and remaining open with your partner with your body will send the message you’re open not only to speak but to listen as well. Check out my blog on3 Important Aspects of Communication for more information on how we communicate with more than just our words.
3. Listen Actively
The old saying, “You have one mouth and two ears” rings true for this. I’m sure many of you can relate when I say that we spend more time thinking about what we’ll say next in conversation than what the person is actually saying. If you incorporate a mindful approach to your conversations, you’ll find yourself more tuned in to what the other person is saying and better able to respond.
4. Say What You Mean and Mean What You Say
Honestly, honesty is always the best policy. There is courage behind telling the truth with everyone in your life and this courage should be embraced and strengthened. When we talk about honesty, we often think “brutally honest” which can include comments like, “That dress makes you look fat.” or “Wow, you really don’t know what you’re doing, do you?” Maybe you’ve even approached a subject with your partner trying to be “honest” and were surprised by how they reacted. Hey, you were just being honest. But honesty doesn’t have to be mean. Maybe it hurts a little and maybe it stings to hear, but that’s because we know what’s being said is right. If you’re going to be honest in your relationship choose your words and tone carefully, come from a place of love, and surprisingly, bring it back to you. “I’ve noticed your weight gain has made you a little uncomfortable around our friends.” can be the opening line to a discussion about your partner (and you) adopting a healthier lifestyle together versus, “You’ve really gained weight in the time we’ve been married.”
5. Keep Calm
In my blog post Can Your Marriage Recover from an Affair? I highlight the fact that staying calm can guide us when making decisions. You want to highlight your emotions in conversation without becoming overly emotional. If your partner feeds off your emotions (they start to cry as soon as you start to cry or they raise to voice to compete with your shouting) you may find that you accomplish less and end up fighting more than you anticipated.
Every couple struggles with communication from time to time. I’m confident if you apply the above techniques you’ll find yourself communicating effectively in no time and if you are having a difficult time applying them feel free to contact me to schedule a session Katie@FamilyAndCouplesCounseling.com.