Tips On How To Communicate Effectively With Your Partner


Healthy relationships are built on honest communication and a better understanding.

Conflict and disagreement are a part of every relationship. Whether a relationship will last is often dependent on how effective the couple is at learning how to work through conflicts and disagreements. Any problem or situation can be addressed and managed using good communication and conflict resolution skills.

Skills are not something we possess at birth. They are learned. This is good news because it means we can practice and become more effective at communicating.

Three basic communication skills are the foundation to learning how to resolve any conflict or problem.

1. Self-awareness is the first component.

This first component is often overlooked. Self-awareness is defined as the conscious knowledge of one's own character, thoughts, feelings and desires. If you are not aware of your thoughts, feelings and desires, you will not be able to communicate them to someone else. Journaling or talking with a good friend or counselor is a way to develop this skill of self-awareness and therefore, improve your ability to communicate with others.

2. Communication must be direct and straightforward.

After you have become aware of your own thoughts and feelings, you need to be willing to express them to your loved ones. Often times we expect others to be able to read our mind, thinking they "should" know how we feel or think. Or we will beat around the bush and talk indirectly about a problem. This sets you up for ongoing disappointments in your relationship. You are more likely to get the result you want if you will simply be direct about the problem and ask for what you need.

3. Good communication involves listening effectively with empathy.

Listening effectively involves much more than simply hearing the words the other person is saying. To listen, you have to be willing to lay your own perspective to the side for a period of time while you consider their perspective. Good listening involves hearing and understanding the words, the feelings underlying the words, and the meaning or interpretation of the words. It helps to say, "What I hear you saying is... " or "It sounds like... ".  It is good to clarify by asking "Am I hearing you correctly?" These listening skills help you to communicate that you care about and respect the other person, their feelings and their opinionseven if you disagree. The other person feels heard and understood.

Once you begin practicing the basic components of communication, it is helpful to use them while working through three phases of communication. These phases are critical when working through a conflict or disagreement.

1. Expressing.

This first phase involves each person sharing their thoughts and feelings about the problem or disagreement. Using "I" statements such as "I feel" and "I think" are more effective at helping you to own your position without pointing the finger or blaming. Good communication shuts down when defensiveness takes over. During this phase each person gets the opportunity to express what they think and feel, while the other person is practicing their listening skills.

2. Asking

This phase involves being able to identify what it is that you want or need. "I" statements in this phase include "I want... " and "I need... ". Once again, each person gets a turn while the other practices their listening skills. It is helpful to validate the other person's wants and needs, showing their importance to you, by stating "I can understand why that need is important to you." When each person expresses their wants and needs, solutions are generated for the next phase. 

3. Compromise and Agreement.

By listening to your loved one's needs and wants, you are able to begin the third phase, which might involve some compromise and negotiation. This involves saying things like "I'm willing to do this if you would do that" or "I'll do this today if you will do this tomorrow." Being open to consider other options and not always having things your way is very important. After generating solutions and possible compromises, it is necessary to come to specific agreements and a plan of action. Rather than disagreement, a "teamwork" mentality is present.

Learning how to effectively use these skills and taking the time to work through these three phrases of good communication is beneficial in working through disagreements and conflicts. At the same time, if used effectively, these skills help to build a foundation of respect and care in your relationship.

Kristen Owen is a Licensed Professional Counselor and Board Certified Professional Christian Counselor. She loves helping people in a way that honors their faith and spiritual journey. Find out more by clicking here.