If you think you and your partner lack effective communication, you’re probably right. It’s the number one relationship problem, according to psychotherapist Laura Young. Good communication is crucial to building trust and intimacy, which creates a stronger connection. Here are some tips to improve these skills.
Realize that there are different forms of communication. Some people like to communicate by talking, some are more visual, and others prefer physical touching to convey their feelings. For example, my partner is more visual and responds better when I’m making eye contact with him. Understanding the way your partner communicates best is the first step.
Touch base with your partner often. Ask how your partner is doing at least once a day. You can also set aside a day and time each week to have a talk face-to-face. Put down your phones, shut off the TV, and really open up to each other. Simply making the time to have regular discussions will ensure that you’re always on the same page.
Actually listen to each other. Don’t become so focused on being right or winning the argument that you forget to comprehend what the other person is saying. Be an active listener. Truly take into consideration what they’re talking about and respond with thoughtfulness. Nothing will get resolved if you’re not trying to understand the other person’s point of view.
Don’t wait to bring up something that’s bothering you. It’s ok to take some time to cool off after an argument, but don’t wait too long to bring something up if it continues to be an issue for you. If you hold it in, it’s going to build up and you’ll eventually explode. And when that happens it’s not productive and you’re both more likely to say hurtful things you don’t mean.
Don’t put all the blame on the other person. If you accuse your partner of being completely at fault every time you talk, they’ll feel attacked. You need to be able to admit when you might be wrong and take some responsibility for your role in whatever you’re arguing about. Your discussions will be much more effective this way.
Both of you need to compromise. If only one person is agreeing to make all of the sacrifices, it’s not fair and it’ll lead to resentment issues. For example, if you’re arguing about whose family to visit on a holiday, don’t push to see your family every time. Split it up evenly instead. You should always attempt to meet each other halfway so you can both be happy with the outcome.
Consider how you’d feel if roles were reversed. If you’re having communication problems, try pretending you’re in the other person’s shoes. How would you feel if you were them? Thinking about things this way might help you understand your partner better. If you both feel like you’re being heard then your communication will improve.
If a discussion is going nowhere, come back to it later. If you seem to be going around in circles then it might be best to take a break from the conversation. It’ll allow you both to regroup and think about new ways to resolve things. You also don’t want to become so angry that you’re disrespectful because that doesn’t help anything. There’s nothing wrong with putting a conversation on hold to take a breather.
Always be honest, even if it’s hard. You should be able to be your true self with your significant other. If you don’t tell the truth, it’ll be impossible for your partner to truly know you and to trust you. And if you don’t trust each other, you’ll never be able to believe each other. So don’t pretend everything is ok if it’s not. Honesty is the key to effective communication and relationship growth.
Try to be positive. Give them the benefit of the doubt instead of assuming the worst. Be optimistic about where your relationship is headed. No one wants to date a negative Nancy. Also, if you’re always focusing on the bad, you’ll forget about the good things in your relationship. Try to remember all the great things about them that made you love them in the first place. Keeping this in mind will help keep things in perspective when you’re communicating.
If all else fails, therapy could help. Don’t be afraid to go to therapy. Getting professional help doesn’t mean your relationship is doomed. It can dramatically improve your ability to communicate with each other if you’re having trouble figuring it out on your own. Sometimes we all need a little help learning how to talk to each other in the most effective way. As long as you’re both doing your best to work on it, you’ll be fine.
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