If you ask most couples what the key to success is, they will probably tell you it’s communication. Even if you do not consider yourself particularly good at communicating, the good news is that it is a skill that can be learned, and by trying to become a better communicator, you do nothing but improve relationships – with loved ones, friends and co-workers. Below are several suggestions for strengthening the health of your relationships through good communication.
- If you have a hard time having the “big conversations”, start small. Expressing yourself in the areas of your life that are easier to talk about will lead to open discussions in the difficult areas as well. If something your partner does hurts your feelings but it seems like such a small deal that you don’t say anything – reconsider. Talking things through provides you with practice that makes a huge difference when something big comes along.
- Before you talk about things of any importance, stop and think about what you’re trying to communicate. Take the time internally to think about the best way to convey it. Using tact, while still being honest, will increase your chances of being heard and understood. Nothing stops a conversation like feeling that someone is attacking or demeaning you.
- Whether you believe in the psychic phenomenon or not, most of you will expect your partner to “read your mind”. Many of us consider it a sign of being considerate and tuned in to what we want, but it’s a mistake to expect that your loved one will know what you are thinking. So don’t rely on psychic ability. Instead, be ready and able to tell someone what you want and need. If you are particularly exhausted when you come home from work and no one offers to give you a night off from cooking dinner, ask for it. It is so easy to build up resentment when something we think they should “just know” doesn’t happen.
- Do not interrupt and insist on the same. We’ve all heard arguments (if not in person then certainly on TV) where two people are having a disagreement and they constantly talk over each other. Do you think that either of them even really hears what the other person is trying to say? If you are trying to say something and someone cuts you off with their response, stop the conversation and tell them that you’d like it if you would both agree to create a new rule. You will not interrupt them when they are talking and you would like not to be interrupted as well. Stop as many times as you need to in order to respect the rule. It might take some time to create a new habit, but it’s really worth it!
- If you want a one-sided conversation, talk to a mirror. One of the most important things in being a good communicator is being a great listener. Do not formulate your responses while you are supposed to be listening. Look at them, listen to them and if you need clarification, reflect back to them what you “think” you heard. If it’s not what they intended, they’ll tell you.