Relationships and Communication
Good communication is integral to all relationships and essential to any healthy partnership. All relationships have ups and downs, but healthy communication can make managing conflict easier and build stronger and healthier partnerships.
Communication is the conveyance of information from one place to another. In relationships, communication allows you to explain to others what you are going through and what you need. Communicating meets your needs and helps you stay connected in the relationship.
Communication and Relationships
Building a relationship requires two people. Each person has their own communication needs and styles. Finding a way to communicate works in their relationship is crucial for couples. You can read their mind no matter how much you know and love another person. We must communicate clearly to avoid misunderstandings leading to harm, anger, resentment, or confusion.
Healthy communication takes practice and effort. Communication is never perfect. When speaking with your partner, be clear so your message can be received and understood, and double-check that you know what your partner is saying.
When talking to your partner, try the following:
- Think about what you want to say
- Be clear about what you want to convey.
- Pay attention to your tone of voice.
- Make time to talk and not be interrupted by other people or distractions such as phones, computers, or TVs
- Make your message clear so your partner can hear and understand you.
- Talk about what is going on and how it is affecting you.
- Talk about your wants and needs, plus how your feel. Use statements like "I want" and "I need."
- Take responsibility for your feelings.
- Listen to your partner. Put your thoughts aside and try understanding their intentions, feelings, needs, and desires.
- Share positive feelings, like your admiration for them and their importance to you.
- Negotiate, remembering that you may not always be correct. If your problem is irrelevant, try to let the problem stop or agree to disagree.
When we communicate, we can speak a lot without talking. Our posture, tone of voice, and facial expressions convey a message. This nonverbal communication tells the other person how we feel.
Nonverbal communication is often "heard" and believed when our feelings don't match our words. For example, if you say "I love you" to your partner in a flat, monotonous tone, you'll get two different messages. Make sure your body language reflects what you are saying.
Listening is an essential aspect of good communication. A good listener encourages their partner to speak openly. Tips for good listening include:
- Maintain comfortable eye contact (where culturally appropriate).
- Lean toward the other person and gesture with interest and concern.
- Adopt an open, non-defensive, moderately relaxed position with arms and legs not crossed.
- Facing others. Do not sit or stand on your side.
- Sit or stand at the same height and avoid looking up or down at each other.
- Avoid distracting gestures, such as fiddling with a pen, looking at the paper, or tapping your feet or fingers.
- Physical barriers, noise, or distractions make good communication difficult. Mute your phone or other communication devices to make sure you are listening.
- Allow others to speak without interruption.
- Show genuine concern and interest.
- Use bold statements such as "I feel … about …", "What I need is …".
- Pay attention to your tone of voice.
- Be willing to take time off work when upset about something. It may be better to calm down before solving the problem.
- Ask others for feedback on your hearing.
- Improve communication in relationships
How to Improve Communication
Some people find it difficult to speak and need time and encouragement to speak their minds. These people can be good listeners or people whose actions speak louder than words.
You can help improve communication by:
- Build partnerships: Share experiences, interests, and concerns with your partner and express love and appreciation
- Share intimacy: Intimacy is more than just a sexual connection. Intimacy comes from moments when you are close and connected with your mate. It means being open and honest.
- Agreement: Find one or two key issues you can agree on, like financial allocations, your goals, or your parenting style or strategy.
To improve your communication, start by asking the following questions:
- What things create conflict between you and your partner? Is it because you don't listen to each other?
- What brings you joy and connection?
- What makes you feel disappointed and distressed?
- What things do you not talk about, and what makes you reluctant to talk about them?
- How would you like to communicate with your partner differently?
Think and try to communicate in different ways.
When you are conscious of how you communicate, you have more control over what happens to each other. While it may be challenging at first, breaking out into new areas of communication can lead to more fulfilling relationships.
Conflict and Communication
Most of us find it difficult to talk about specific experiences or topics. It can be painful, or it can make us uneasy. Some people find it hard to express their feelings. Sometimes, the things you can't talk about hurt the most. If you are having trouble expressing yourself or talking about something with your partner, it may be helpful to speak to a counselor.
Tips for dealing with communication conflicts include:
- Avoid the "silent treatment."
- Don't jump to conclusions. Get all the facts instead of guessing motives.
- Discuss what happened. Don't judge.
- Learn to understand each other, not beat each other.
- Use future and present tense instead of past tense.
- Focus on the root issue and don't get distracted by other problems.
- Talk about hurting you or your partner's feelings, then move to the topic of disagreement.
- Use "I feel" statements instead of "You are" statements.
- Seek help with communication problems.
Get Help with Relationship Issues
If you can't seem to improve communication in your relationship, consider talking to a relationship counselor. Counselors are trained to identify the couple's contact patterns that lead to problems, help change those patterns, and provide strategies, tips, and safe places to explore issues.
You may also consider taking courses related to your relationship. It's better to act early and speak with someone rather than wait until things get worse.
Life is a journey with many peaks and valleys. At Mindful Living Group, we can help you improve your wellness by dealing with difficult life transitions, isolation, depression, anxiety, substance misuse, and communication problems. We are here to help – you are not alone. Our team of mindful-oriented professionals can support you with our holistic approach to mental health and wellness.