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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 May 21, 2019

    How to Communicate Effectively in Any Relationship

    How to Communicate Effectively in Any Relationship

    For all our social media bravado, we live in a society where communication is seen less as an art, and more as a perfunctory exercise. We spend so much time with people, yet we struggle with how to meaningfully communicate.

    If you believe you have mastered effective communication, scan the list below and see whether you can see yourself in any of the examples:

    Example 1

    You are uncomfortable with a person’s actions or comments, and rather than telling the individual immediately, you sidestep the issue and attempt to move on as though the offending behavior or comment never happened.

    You move on with the relationship and develop a pattern of not addressing challenging situations. Before long, the person with whom you are in relationship will say or do something that pushes you over the top and predictably, you explode or withdraw completely from the relationship.

    In this example, hard-to-speak truths become never- expressed truths that turn into resentment and anger.

    Example 2

    You communicate from the head and without emotion. While what you communicate makes perfect sense to you, it comes across as cold because it lacks emotion.

    People do not understand what motivates you to say what you say, and without sharing your feelings and emotions, others experience you as rude, cold or aggressive.

    You will know this is a problem if people shy away from you, ignore your contributions in meetings or tell you your words hurt. You can also know you struggle in this area if you find yourself constantly apologizing for things you have said.

    Example 3

    You have an issue with one person, but you communicate your problem to an entirely different person.

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    The person in whom you confide lacks the authority to resolve the matter troubling you, and while you have vented and expressed frustration, the underlying challenge is unresolved.

    Example 4

    You grew up in a family with destructive communication habits and those habits play out in your current relationships.

    Because you have never stopped to ask why you communicate the way you do and whether your communication style still works, you may lack understanding of how your words impact others and how to implement positive change.

    If you find yourself in any of the situations described above, this article is for you.

    Communication can build or decimate worlds and it is important we get it right. Regardless of your professional aspirations or personal goals, you can improve your communication skills if you:

    • Understand your own communication style
    • Tailor your style depending on the needs of the audience
    • Communicate with precision and care
    • Be mindful of your delivery, timing and messenger

    1. Understand Your Communication Style

    To communicate effectively, you must understand the communication legacy passed down from our parents, grandparents or caregivers. Each of us grew up with spoken and unspoken rules about communication.

    In some families, direct communication is practiced and honored. In other families, family members are encouraged to shy away from difficult conversations. Some families appreciate open and frank dialogue and others do not. Other families practice silence about substantive matters, that is, they seldom or rarely broach difficult conversations at all.

    Before you can appreciate the nuance required in communication, it helps to know the familial patterns you grew up with.

    2. Learn Others Communication Styles

    Communicating effectively requires you to take a step back, assess the intended recipient of your communication and think through how the individual prefers to be communicated with. Once you know this, you can tailor your message in a way that increases the likelihood of being heard. This also prevents you from assuming the way you communicate with one group is appropriate or right for all groups or people.

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    If you are unsure how to determine the styles of the groups or persons with whom you are interacting, you can always ask them:

    “How do you prefer to receive information?”

    This approach requires listening, both to what the individuals say as well as what is unspoken. Virgin Group CEO Richard Branson noted that the best communicators are also great listeners.

    To communicate effectively from relationship to relationship and situation to situation, you must understand the communication needs of others.

    3. Exercise Precision and Care

    A recent engagement underscored for me the importance of exercising care when communicating.

    On a recent trip to Ohio, I decided to meet up with an old friend to go for a walk. As we strolled through the soccer park, my friend gently announced that he had something to talk about, he was upset with me. His introduction to the problem allowed me to mentally shift gears and prepare for the conversation.

    Shortly after introducing the shift in conversation, my friend asked me why I didn’t invite him to the launch party for my business. He lives in Ohio and I live in the D.C. area.

    I explained that the event snuck up on me, and I only started planning the invite list three weeks before the event. Due to the last-minute nature of the gathering, I opted to invite people in the DMV area versus my friends from outside the area – I didn’t want to be disrespectful by asking them to travel on such short notice.

    I also noted that I didn’t want to be disappointed if he and others declined to come to the event. So I played it safe in terms of inviting people who were local.

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    In the moment, I felt the conversation went very well. I also checked in with my friend a few days after our walk, affirmed my appreciation for his willingness to communicate his upset and our ability to work through it.

    The way this conversation unfolded exemplified effective communication. My friend approached me with grace and vulnerability. He approached me with a level of curiosity that didn’t put me on my heels — I was able to really listen to what he was saying, apologize for how my decision impacted him and vow that going forward, I would always ask rather than making decisions for him and others.

    Our relationship is intact, and I now have information that will help me become a better friend to him and others.

    4. Be Mindful of Delivery, Timing and Messenger

    Communicating effectively also requires thinking through the delivery of the message one intends to communicate as well as the appropriate time for the discussion.

    In an Entrepreneur.com column, VIP Contributor Deep Patel, noted that persons interested in communicating well need to master the art of timing. Patel noted,[1]

    “Great comedians, like all great communicators, are able to feel out their audience to determine when to move on to a new topic or when to reiterate an idea.”

    Communicating effectively also requires thoughtfulness about the messenger. A person prone to dramatic, angry outbursts should never be called upon to deliver constructive feedback, especially to people whom they do not know. The immediate aftermath of a mass shooting is not the ideal time to talk about the importance of the Second Amendment rights.

    Like everyone else, I must work to ensure my communication is layered with precision and care.

    It requires precision because words must be carefully tailored to the person with whom you are speaking.

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    It requires intentionality because before one communicates, one should think about the audience and what the audience needs in order to hear your message the way you intended it to be communicated.

    It requires active listening which is about hearing verbal and nonverbal messages.

    Even though we may be right in what we say, how we say it could derail the impact of the message and the other parties’ ability to hear the message.

    Communicating with care is also about saying things that the people in our life need to hear and doing so with love.

    The Bottom Line

    When I left the meeting with my dear friend, I wondered if I was replicating or modeling this level of openness and transparency in the rest of my relationships.

    I was intrigued and appreciative. He’d clearly thought about what he wanted to say to me, picked the appropriate time to share his feedback and then delivered it with care. He hit the ball out of the park and I’m hopeful we all do the same.

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    Featured photo credit: Kenan Buhic via unsplash.com

    Reference

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