Communication is the cornerstone in any relationship. It is a foundation of utmost importance and is something that often needs to be learned, polished and practiced over time. Fortunately, there are basic strategies that can be used in any relationship to help improve connections and head off devastation before it starts. Effective communication in relationships only help strengthen bonds between fathers and sons, mothers and daughters, life partners, spouses and friends.
You Don’t Need To Be Right
We think if we can get the other person to see our point of view and agree with us, then we will be happy and our relationship will be what we’ve always wished it to be: heaven on earth, right? Well, not exactly. The key is to be able to have an exchange of ideas and words that will be heard, understood, and reciprocated between two people. We think if we simply repeat ourselves or tell the other person what we need from him or her with a little more vigor, then he or she will finally get it.
Being Indirect Never Works
Some of us use more subtle hints, like passive aggressive behaviors to get the other person to listen and understand us. I once remember counseling a lady who said, “I was hoping my husband would read my journal I left it open on the bed, so he would know how I feel.” She could not bring herself to tell him directly in an open, honest communication session what she needed from him and in turn learn what he needed from her. It may be a little frightening at first, but with time and practice, two people can learn to use these strategies with little effort. Let’s take a look at some ways you can help your relationship succeed.
The 5 Strategies:
Listen to what your partner is saying: How often is it when you are in the midst of a conversation with your partner, that instead of listening to him or her, you are thinking of a rebuttal. There is nothing more frustrating than talking with someone about an important topic and he or she is busy playing with nails, looking around the room (or worse at the TV), or appear to be daydreaming. Use body language such as leaning in to listen, making eye contact, and nodding. Of course, really being interested in what they have to say could be of some importance, don’t you agree?
Refrain from using blame statements. This may take practice. How often is it that when you are in the heat of anger you put your foot in your mouth and wish you could take your words back. Often your statements can come across as accusatory simply because you say things like, “You always” or “You don’t.” Instead, try saying something like “I feel important to you when you spend time with me doing…” These statements help to quell arguments and open up lines of communication.
It is important to calm down (sometimes in isolation) before talking about issues. Some of us like to nip things in the bud right away. I understand, but it can do more harm than good if you jump into a discussion about your needs while in the midst of anger. If you feel you must leave the situation to calm down, try and tell your partner that is why you are leaving, and the issue will be discussed at a later time.
Choose an appropriate time and place to discuss your concerns. There’s nothing like talking about sexual issues just before or after sex to spoil the mood; wouldn’t you agree? Try setting a neutral time and place (not the bedroom) to discuss issues of any kind, especially sex. For non-romantic relationships, this works also. For example, don’t try and discuss a problem before a family outing or get together. This will only serve to reinforce your disdain for family functions. Setting an appropriate time and place to discuss issues in any relationship is vital in order to prevent negative associations with what should be joyous occasions.
Ask questions and be attentive. This will allow your partner to feel you are attempting to find a solution and you sincerely care for him or her. A good rule of thumb is to ask questions such as, “What do you need from me in order to feel important in this relationship?”
I hope you find these communication strategies helpful in your relationships and remember practice makes perfect!
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