10 Tips for Great Communication for your Relationship
As a child, in school, we are taught how to do math, how to read and write, history and a scientific understanding of the world in which we live. Yes, these subjects are important through assisting us with understanding how the world works and being able to understand which careers to seek based on our strengths. Math, Reading, History and Science are not the only aspects of life that are important and greatly impact our day to day activities. What about being taught how to be social, how to engage in a conversation, how to confront conflict without being aggressive. In life we are thrown into society expecting to “just figure it out” without being handed the tools to formally learn how to socialize with others.
In school, we are supposed to learn communication from our teachers and friendships. In our relationships, we are expected to learn how to communicate through our experiences with our own mother’s and fathers and by watching other individuals in relationships.
What if the relationships that we are meant to model were not healthy?
What if those relationships taught us the exact opposite?
When the kitchen is dirty, and you’ve asked for it to be cleaned do you criticize your partner or children?
Do you yell?
Ask yourself, what have you been taught in your life about communication?
Are you able to have a healthy confrontation with someone else and are you able to engage in a conflict conversation with your partner without screaming, yelling and being critical of the other person? On the other opposite end, you may avoid conversations that may sound conflictual to you, possibly leaving you resentful.
According to the Canadian Counseling and Psychotherapy Association Healthy communication is defined as having the ability to communicate without offering hateful or undesirable responses. They also report that healthy communication acknowledges the ability to understand that every person has the right to “agree to disagree.”
Thankfully, it is never too late to start fresh with your ways of communicating. There are ways that we can all improve our communication to strengthen not only our romantic relationships, but every relationship in all aspects of our lives.
Tips for Healthy Communication:
According to John and Julie Gottman, there are 5 steps for engaging in conversation in a healthy manner.
Make statements that start with “I” instead of “You” to avoid blame: “you” signifies criticism and criticism attacks the other person's character.
ex) Instead of saying “Why are you so disgusting!?” Try saying “I really like when you put your dishes away in the dishwasher after you eat babe, thank You” during the times when you notice that he/she does clean up after themselves.
Describe what is happening without evaluating or judging the other person
Be clear about your needs in a positive manner.
Be polite: As we learned in preschool “please and thank you” are the magic words
Give Appreciations: Notice what your partner did right. Tell them and let the know that you want them to continue doing what they are doing.
Another aspect for healthy communication is listening. Listening involves the ability to ask the right questions, empathize and be understanding of what the other person is saying.
Tips for Listening Skills:
Shift your focus away from yourself
Try to see from your partner's perspective: Be understanding of what your partner is experiencing
Discard all distractions. Put away phones. Turn off the television: be present in the moment with your partner. Make sure that they have your undivided attention.
Ask questions that show that you want to understand: Be an investigator, discard your opinions and feelings about the topic
Reflect back what you heard your partner say: Express your understanding of what you heard your partner describe.
All in all, communication is a skill that is vital for strong relationships. We are often not taught how to communicate effectively, but we can put the tips mentioned above into practice today. Enjoy engaging with your partners in a new healthy way!