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7 Communication Mistakes Most Couples Make

7 Communication Mistakes Most Couples Make

Being half of a couple can be difficult, even if you’re head-over-heels in love. Communicating with your honey can get touchy, because both of you have different thoughts, opinions, emotions and histories. Check out this list and see what common communication mistakes most couples make, so you can eliminate them from your own relationship.

1. Assuming that more communication is the solution.

Believe it or not, there is such thing as too much communication. Have you ever discussed or argued your point so much that you start saying everything that comes to mind? Sometimes those things that come to mind aren’t the best to come from your mouth… But this happens because you’re talking so much that you’re saying things just to hold your own in the conversation. This is how you know you’re communicating too much. Sometimes you need to keep things to yourself, and while this doesn’t mean hiding things from your partner, it means picking your words carefully and saying just what needs to be said to resolve the issue at hand. The last thing you want to do is open another can of worms while you’re in the middle of resolving the current issue!

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2. Expecting your partner to read your mind.

You don’t want to communicate too much, but you also don’t want to bite your tongue and expect your partner to know what you’re thinking. If you’re waiting for someone to read your mind, you’re never going to feel like an equal in the relationship. You need to say what you’re thinking and feeling, just make sure your partner understands that these are your emotions and opinions, not something you’re forcing on them.

3. Giving in without saying what you think.

Don’t roll over and give up everything you’re thinking just to resolve the problem at hand. Your partner can’t win every time, and you need to make sure you’re letting your feelings be known and getting what you need from the relationship, too. If you never say what you think because you’re trying to keep the peace, you’ll find that over time you’re actually holding a grudge and resenting your partner because you’re unhappy in the relationship.

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    4. Harping on hopeless issues.

    It’s easy to bring up fights from the past, or nag your partner for things in their history, or things they believe or do differently from you. This is always a bad choice, though. It changes nothing, and it makes you look like you’re never going to let anything go. Be the type of person who can get over a fight when it’s resolved, and not bring it up in each fight that follows. “Live in the moment” sounds like silly advice when you’re in the middle of an argument, but it’s something that needs to be done so you’re not prolonging every fight you have.

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    5. Not understanding what is really being said.

    Some couples find it helpful to summarize each others’ points. Sounds like something you’d do for a high school paper, right? It’s actually a really good way to make sure you understand each other! After your partner shares their thoughts, summarize by saying “It sounds like you’re happy with X, but need Y to change to feel like the relationship is moving forward.” Your partner can then clarify if needed. If you got it right, then you can start explaining your thoughts on the issue. This way each remark doesn’t bring up a new fight due to imagined snarkiness or hostility.

    6. Thinking about your rebuttal instead of listening.

    It’s ok to admit — most of us go into a fight knowing what points we want to make, how we want the other person to feel, and what we want for “winning”. This is a bad attitude to have, though, because any discussion should have at least two sides to be fair. But when you know exactly what you want to say, you often think about that instead of listening to what the other person is saying. Don’t just focus on the first few words your partner says — listen to their whole statement, take a moment to absorb it, and then think about what you want to say in a return. If you have to scrap your original plan of attack, it’s probably for the best.

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    7. Not considering the other’s point of view.

    Everyone is different, and you know your partner intimately. You know how they think about things, how certain words or situations make them feel. Don’t forget all of this just to win an argument. Take your partner’s feelings, opinions and background into consideration when you communicate. You can sidestep a lot of fights and hurt feelings by being considerate this way.

    Featured photo credit: morning shadow via flickr.com

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    Last Updated on January 15, 2021

    7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

    7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

    The popular idiomatic saying that “actions speak louder than words” has been around for centuries, but even to this day, most people struggle with at least one area of nonverbal communication. Consequently, many of us aspire to have more confident body language but don’t have the knowledge and tools necessary to change what are largely unconscious behaviors.

    Given that others’ perceptions of our competence and confidence are predominantly influenced by what we do with our faces and bodies, it’s important to develop greater self-awareness and consciously practice better posture, stance, eye contact, facial expressions, hand movements, and other aspects of body language.

    Posture

    First things first: how is your posture? Let’s start with a quick self-assessment of your body.

    • Are your shoulders slumped over or rolled back in an upright posture?
    • When you stand up, do you evenly distribute your weight or lean excessively to one side?
    • Does your natural stance place your feet relatively shoulder-width apart or are your feet and legs close together in a closed-off position?
    • When you sit, does your lower back protrude out in a slumped position or maintain a straight, spine-friendly posture in your seat?

    All of these are important considerations to make when evaluating and improving your posture and stance, which will lead to more confident body language over time. If you routinely struggle with maintaining good posture, consider buying a posture trainer/corrector, consulting a chiropractor or physical therapist, stretching daily, and strengthening both your core and back muscles.

    Facial Expressions

    Are you prone to any of the following in personal or professional settings?

    • Bruxism (tight, clenched jaw or grinding teeth)
    • Frowning and/or furrowing brows
    • Avoiding direct eye contact and/or staring at the ground

    If you answered “yes” to any of these, then let’s start by examining various ways in which you can project confident body language through your facial expressions.

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    1. Understand How Others Perceive Your Facial Expressions

    A December 2020 study by UC Berkeley and Google researchers utilized a deep neural network to analyze facial expressions in six million YouTube clips representing people from over 140 countries. The study found that, despite socio-cultural differences, people around the world tended to use about 70% of the same facial expressions in response to different emotional stimuli and situations.[1]

    The study’s researchers also published a fascinating interactive map to demonstrate how their machine learning technology assessed various facial expressions and determined subtle differences in emotional responses.

    This study highlights the social importance of facial expressions because whether or not we’re consciously aware of them—by gazing into a mirror or your screen on a video conferencing platform—how we present our faces to others can have tremendous impacts on their perceptions of us, our confidence, and our emotional states. This awareness is the essential first step towards

    2. Relax Your Face

    New research on bruxism and facial tension found the stresses and anxieties of Covid-19 lockdowns led to considerable increases in orofacial pain, jaw-clenching, and teeth grinding, particularly among women.[2]

    The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research estimates that more than 10 million Americans alone have temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJ syndrome), and facial tension can lead to other complications such as insomnia, wrinkles, dry skin, and dark, puffy bags under your eyes.[3])

    To avoid these unpleasant outcomes, start practicing progressive muscle relaxation techniques and taking breaks more frequently throughout the day to moderate facial tension.[4] You should also try out some biofeedback techniques to enhance your awareness of involuntary bodily processes like facial tension and achieve more confident body language as a result.[5]

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    3. Improve Your Eye Contact

    Did you know there’s an entire subfield of kinesic communication research dedicated to eye movements and behaviors called oculesics?[6] It refers to various communication behaviors including direct eye contact, averting one’s gaze, pupil dilation/constriction, and even frequency of blinking. All of these qualities can shape how other people perceive you, which means that eye contact is yet another area of nonverbal body language that we should be more mindful of in social interactions.

    The ideal type (direct/indirect) and duration of eye contact depends on a variety of factors, such as cultural setting, differences in power/authority/age between the parties involved, and communication context. Research has shown that differences in the effects of eye contact are particularly prominent when comparing East Asian and Western European/North American cultures.[7]

    To improve your eye contact with others, strive to maintain consistent contact for at least 3 to 4 seconds at a time, consciously consider where you’re looking while listening to someone else, and practice eye contact as much as possible (as strange as this may seem in the beginning, it’s the best way to improve).

    3. Smile More

    There are many benefits to smiling and laughing, and when it comes to working on more confident body language, this is an area that should be fun, low-stakes, and relatively stress-free.

    Smiling is associated with the “happiness chemical” dopamine and the mood-stabilizing hormone, serotonin. Many empirical studies have shown that smiling generally leads to positive outcomes for the person smiling, and further research has shown that smiling can influence listeners’ perceptions of our confidence and trustworthiness as well.

    4. Hand Gestures

    Similar to facial expressions and posture, what you do with your hands while speaking or listening in a conversation can significantly influence others’ perceptions of you in positive or negative ways.

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    It’s undoubtedly challenging to consciously account for all of your nonverbal signals while simultaneously trying to stay engaged with the verbal part of the discussion, but putting in the effort to develop more bodily awareness now will make it much easier to unconsciously project more confident body language later on.

    5. Enhance Your Handshake

    In the article, “An Anthropology of the Handshake,” University of Copenhagen social anthropology professor Bjarke Oxlund assessed the future of handshaking in wake of the Covid-19 pandemic:[8]

    “Handshakes not only vary in function and meaning but do so according to social context, situation and scale. . . a public discussion should ensue on the advantages and disadvantages of holding on to the tradition of shaking hands as the conventional gesture of greeting and leave-taking in a variety of circumstances.”

    It’s too early to determine some of the ways in which Covid-19 has permanently changed our social norms and professional etiquette standards, but it’s reasonable to assume that handshaking may retain its importance in American society even after this pandemic. To practice more confident body language in the meantime, the video on the science of the perfect handshake below explains what you need to know.

    6. Complement Your Verbals With Hand Gestures

    As you know by now, confident communication involves so much more than simply smiling more or sounding like you know what you’re talking about. What you do with your hands can be particularly influential in how others perceive you, whether you’re fidgeting with an object, clenching your fists, hiding your hands in your pockets, or calmly gesturing to emphasize important points you’re discussing.

    Social psychology researchers have found that “iconic gestures”—hand movements that appear to be meaningfully related to the speaker’s verbal content—can have profound impacts on listeners’ information retention. In other words, people are more likely to engage with you and remember more of what you said when you speak with complementary hand gestures instead of just your voice.[9]

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    Further research on hand gestures has shown that even your choice of the left or right hand for gesturing can influence your ability to clearly convey information to listeners, which supports the notion that more confident body language is readily achievable through greater self-awareness and deliberate nonverbal actions.[10]

    Final Takeaways

    Developing better posture, enhancing your facial expressiveness, and practicing hand gestures can vastly improve your communication with other people. At first, it will be challenging to consciously practice nonverbal behaviors that many of us are accustomed to performing daily without thinking about them.

    If you ever feel discouraged, however, remember that there’s no downside to consistently putting in just a little more time and effort to increase your bodily awareness. With the tips and strategies above, you’ll be well on your way to embracing more confident body language and amplifying others’ perceptions of you in no time.

    More Tips on How to Develop a Confident Body Language

    Featured photo credit: Maria Lupan via unsplash.com

    Reference

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