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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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    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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