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Level Up Your Communication in Relationships With These 7 Tips

Level Up Your Communication in Relationships With These 7 Tips

    Communication can be a really tough thing, especially if it is with someone that you have been in a relationship with for a long time. People tend to get comfortable with each other and when that happens the levels of communication may start to decrease because you “know each other so well”.

    I’ve been with my wife for 7 years (married for a little over 2 years) and we have had issues that every couple has had; assuming that each other knows something, miscommunication, lack of communication, and not taking time for communication. We fell into a comfortable routine in our life, and when that happened, our communication started to suffer.

    SEE ALSO: 10 Things To Stop Doing in Your Relationships

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    So, don’t let comfortableness fool you; there is still communication issues that will come up if you don’t keep yourself open and honest and make an effort to communicate with your partner. Follow these simple tips to make sure that your communication in relationships is top notch.

    1. Assuming

    You have heard the old saying, “Assuming makes an ‘ass’ out of ‘u’ and ‘me’”. Yes, it’s cheeky and kind of stupid, but it’s very true. It’s important in your relationship to not assume something unless it has been clearly laid out in some form of communication.

    For instance, it’s assumed that I will take out the garbage every Tuesday night (oops, need to get on that), but only because my wife and I have a verbal contract that says so. If I don’t take out the garbage, then it is my fault. If there were no contract, the blame couldn’t really be passed to anyone. Sounds technical, but it happens all the time.

    So, don’t assume, unless it has been laid out in a concrete way with your partner.

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    2. Say what you mean

    If you have something to say in your relationship, then say it clearly and concisely. It’s important to tell the other person exactly what you mean, because if you don’t, they will create in their heads what they think you mean. And that is never a good situation to be in.

    Just take some time to say what you mean, don’t rush your thoughts, and clarify your point if necessary.

    3. Don’t shut up

    If you have something to say, then say it. Don’t keep things bottled up inside, especially when something in the relationship is bothering you. Also, if you have something good to say about your partner, say it loud and often. People may not necessarily like to hear the truth all the time, but it’s an important communication skill to let the other person in the relationship know where you are at.

    4. Think about her before yourself

    “It’s all about me”. Yeah, that doesn’t work so well in a relationship.

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    While you shouldn’t let one side of the relationship have all the attention, it’s important to to let your other half have some attention before you get some. This shows that you actually care what they are doing in their lives and that you are interested in them.

    Plus practicing a little selflessness every day can only make you a more sincere and empathetic person.

    5. Don’t discourage conversation about feelings

    Guys may be apprehensive about sharing what they feel at any given time (OK, anyone may be apprehensive), but if you really want to kick your communication into high gear share what your feelings are about the situtations that are going on in your life.

    When I have shared what I truly felt with my wife, she was amazed and felt much more connected to me (and I with her). Talking about feelings sounds cliche, but don’t disregard it; it is important and it works.

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    6. Make communication time

    At least once a day set aside some time to open the lines of communication with your partner. Basically shut down all the gizmos and just have a conversation. It may feel weird and somewhat uncomfortable at first, but the quality of the conversation will get better and better as time goes on.

    Also, you will end up learning a bunch of things you never knew about your partner (yes, even after many years of being with them).

    7. Make non-communication time

    On the opposite side of this, make sure that you have scheduled time for not communicating. In other words, schedule a little “me time” every single day. This is great for introspection and reflection on your life and current situation. You can process feelings, worries, thoughts, etc. by yourself and then bring them to your partner during your own communication times.

    Sometimes we need a little quiet to understand what is going on with us on the inside.

    Communication is the most important thing in my marriage and many others. Don’t take it for granted and make sure to spend some serious time working on communication by following the tips above. Your relationships will only benefit from them.

    (Photo credit: Problems via Shutterstock)

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    CM Smith

    A technologist and writer who shares advice on personal productivity, creativity and how to use technology to get things done.

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    Published on September 23, 2020

    6 Effective Negotiation Skills to Master

    6 Effective Negotiation Skills to Master

    I don’t know about you, but many times when I hear the word negotiate I think of lawyers working out a business deal or having to do battle with a car salesman to try to get a lower price. Since I am in recruiting, the term “negotiation” comes up when someone is attempting to get a higher compensation package.

    If we think about it, we tend to negotiate almost every day in a wide variety of things we do. Getting a handle on the important negotiation skills can be incredibly beneficial in many parts of our lives. Let’s take a look at 6 effective negotiation skills to master.

    What is Negotiation?

    First, let’s take a look at what negotiation is. Put simply, negotiation is a method by which people settle their differences. It is a process in which compromise or agreement can be reached without argument or dispute.

    Anytime two people or sides disagree on something, they are almost always looking for the best possible outcome for their side. This could be from an individual’s perspective or someone representing an organization.

    In reality, it’s rare that one side gets everything they want and the other side gets nothing that they are seeking. Seeking to reach a common ground of sorts where both sides feel like they are getting most of what they want is the key to being successful and maintaining the relationship.

    Places We Negotiate

    I’ve mentioned that we negotiate in just about all phases of our life. For those of you who are shaking your head no, I invite you to think about the following:

    1. Work/Business

    This one is the most obvious and it’s what naturally comes to mind when we think of the word “negotiate”.

    When you first started at your current job, you might have asked for a higher salary. It could be that you delivered a huge new client to your company and used this as leverage in your most recent evaluation for more compensation. If you work with vendors (and just about every company does), maybe you worked them to a lower price or better contract terms.

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    In recruiting, I negotiate with candidates and hiring managers all the time to land the best talent I can find. It’s very common to accept additional work with the (sometimes spoken, sometimes unspoken) agreement that it will benefit your career in the future.

    Recently, I took over a project that was my boss was working on so that I would be able to attend a conference later in the year. And so it goes, we do this all day long at work.

    2. Personal

    I don’t know about you, but I negotiate with my spouse all the time. I’ll cook dinner with the understanding that she does the dishes. Who wants to mow the lawn and who wants to vacuum and dust the house?

    I think we should save 10% for retirement, but she thinks 5% is plenty. Therefore, we save 8%. And don’t even get me started with my kids. My older daughter can borrow my car as soon as she finishes her chores. My younger daughter can go hang out with her friends when her homework is done.

    Then, there are all those interactions in our personal lives outside our homes. The carpenter wants to charge me $12,000 to build a new deck. I think $10,000 is plenty so we agree on $11,000. I ask my neighbor if I can borrow his snowblower in the winter if I invite him over the next time I grill steak. And so on.

    3. Ourselves

    You didn’t expect this one, did you? We negotiate with ourselves all day long.

    I’ll make sure I don’t skip my workout tomorrow since I’m going to have that extra piece of pizza. My spouse has been quiet the last few days, is it worth me asking her about, or should I leave it alone? I think the car place charged me for some repairs that weren’t needed, should I say something or just let it go? I know my friend has been having some personal challenges, should I check in with him? We’ve been friends for a long time, I’m sure he’d come to me if he needed help. I’ve got the #4 pick in this year’s Fantasy Football draft, should I choose a running back or a wide receiver?

    Think about that non-stop voice inside your head. It always seems to be chattering away about something and many times, it’s us negotiating with ourselves. I’ll finish up that report that the boss needs before I turn on the football game.

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    Why Negotiation Skills Are So Important

    Put simply, negotiation skills are important because we all interact with other people, and not only other people but other organizations and groups of people as well.

    We all rarely want the same thing or outcome. Most of the time a vendor is looking at getting you to pay a higher price for something than you want to spend. Therefore, it’s important to negotiate to some middle ground that works well for both sides.

    My wife and I disagree on how much to save for retirement. If we weren’t married it wouldn’t be an issue. We’d each contribute how much we wanted to on our retirement funds. We choose to be married, so we have to come to some agreement that we both feel comfortable with. We have to compromise. Therefore, we have to negotiate.

    If we each lived on a planet by ourselves, we would be free to do just about anything we wanted to. We wouldn’t have to compromise with anyone because we wouldn’t interact with anyone. We would make every choice unilaterally the way we wanted to.

    As we all know, this isn’t how things are. We are constantly interacting with other people and organizations, each one with their own agenda’s, viewpoints, and opinions. Therefore, we have to be able to work together.

    6 Negotiation Skills to Master

    Having strong negotiation skills helps us create win-win situations with others, allowing us to get most of what we want in conjunction with others around us.

    Now, let’s look at 6 effective negotiation skills to master.

    1. Preparation

    Preparation is a key place to start with when getting ready to negotiate. Being prepared means having a clear vision of what you want and how you’d go about achieving it. It means knowing what the end goal looks like and also what you are willing to give to get it.

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    It also means knowing who you are negotiating with and what areas they might be willing to compromise on. You should also know what your “bottom line” is. By “bottom line” I mean what is the most you are willing to give up to get what you want.

    For instance, several years ago, I decided it was time to get a newer car. I say newer because I wanted a “new to me” car, not a brand new car. I did my research and figured out what type of car I wanted. I decided on what must-have items on the car I wanted, the highest amount of miles that would already be on it, the colors I was willing to get it in, and the highest amount of money I was willing to pay.

    After visiting numerous car dealerships I was able to negotiate buying a car. I knew what I was willing to give up (amount of money) and what I was willing to accept, things like the color, amount of miles, etc. I came prepared. This is critical.

    2. Clear Communication

    The next key skill you need to be an effective negotiator is clear communication. You have to be able to clearly articulate what you want to the other party. This means both clear verbal and written communication.

    If you can’t clearly tell the other person what you want, how do you expect to get it? Have you ever worked through something with a vendor or someone else only to learn of a surprise right at the end that wasn’t talked about before? This is not what you would call clear communication. It’s essential to be able to share a coherent and logical vision with the person you are working with.

    3. Active Listening

    Let’s do a quick review of active listening. This is when you are completely focused on the speaker, understand their message, comprehend the information, and respond appropriately. This is a necessary ingredient to be able to negotiate successfully. You must be able to fully focus on the other person’s wants to completely understand them.

    If you aren’t giving them your full attention, you may miss some major points or details. This leads to frustration down the road on both sides. Ensure you are employing your active listening skills when in arbitration mode.

    4. Teamwork and Collaboration

    To be able to get to a place of common ground and a win-win scenario, you have to have a sense of teamwork and collaboration.

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    If you are only thinking about yourself and what you want without giving much care to what the other person is wanting, you are bound to wind up without a solution. The other person may get frustrated and give up if they see you are unwilling to meet them halfway or care little for what they want.

    When you collaborate, you are working together to help each other get what is most important to you. The other upside to negotiating with a sense of teamwork and collaboration is that it helps create a sense of trust, which, in turn, helps provide positive energy for working to a successful conclusion.

    5. Problem Solving

    Problem-solving is another key negotiation skill. When you are working with the other person to get the deal done many times you’ll face new challenges along the way.

    Maybe you want a new vendor to provide training on the software they are selling you but they say it’s going to cost an additional $20,000 to provide this service. If you don’t have the additional $20,000 in the budget to spend on the software but you feel the training is critical, how are you going to solve that problem?

    From what I’ve seen, most vendors aren’t willing to provide additional services without getting paid for them. This is where problem-solving skills will help continue the discussions. You might suggest to the vendor that your company will also be looking to replace their financial software next year, and you’d be happy to ensure they get one of the first seats at the table when the time comes if they could perhaps lower the pricing on their training.

    There’s a solution to most challenges, but it takes problem-solving skills to work through them effectively.

    6. Decision-Making Ability

    Finally, having strong decision-making ability will help you seal the deal when you get to a place where everyone feels like they are getting what works for them. Each step of the way you can cross off the list when you get what you are looking for and decide to move onto the next item. Then, once you have all of your must-have boxes checked and the other side feels good about things, it’s time to shake hands and sign on the dotted line. Powerful decision-making ability will help you get to the finish line together.

    Conclusion

    There you have it, 6 effective negotiation skills to master to lead a more fulfilling life. Once we realize that we negotiate in one form or another almost every day in every phase of our lives, we realize how critical a skill it is.

    Possessing strong negotiation skills will help you in nearly every one of your relationships at both the workplace and in your personal life. If you feel your arbitration tools could use some sharpening, try some of the 6 effective negotiation skills to master that we’ve talked about.

    More Tips to Improve Your Negotiation Skills

    Featured photo credit: Windows via unsplash.com

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