Communication is an important aspect of every relationship. It nurtures clarity and honesty, which both support the foundation of trust between you and your significant other.
Here’s how to communicate better in a relationship.
How to Communicate Better in a Relationship
We communicate even when we are trying not to through nonverbal language. When we are intently communicating, it doesn’t always get received the way we want. Meaning, we can say one thing but the person you are talking to can perceive it in a different way.
From a very early age, you learned how to communicate. You learned how to listen and how to receive messages. This does not mean you were taught how to correctly communicate in all situations. In fact, very few people get it right all of the time.
Understanding the types of communication is a good start for building healthy relationships.
Types of Communication
We tend to think talking is our only form of communication. However, there are many types of communication. Knowing the difference between them will help you improve your communication within your relationship.
Verbal communication is when we hold discussions using our mouth, our words, and language. Written communication includes handwritten notes or letters, emails and even texts we send to one another. Nonverbal communication means how you speak to someone using body language.
Positive body language can be a hug, a wave, a smile. On the other hand, negative body language means a scowl, flipping someone the finger, the evil eye or crossing your arms as if you are closed off. Body language includes eye contact, facial expressions, posture, touch and even distance you put between you and your partner.
Each of these types of communication is a crucial factor in maintaining a long-term healthy relationship. Although you may not have conquered the art of communication right now, there are many steps you can take to improve. Below are some of these steps.
Think Before You Speak
It is easy to get mad and shout out hurtful words to our partner. It is easy to speak before we think, especially when angry. Reacting in any way while angry can lead to negative consequences. Arguments can become physical. Even nonverbal language can be extremely hurtful when it matches negative emotions.
Before reacting immediately, based on how you feel in the moment, think before speaking. If this means walking away from the conversation for a while, that is okay. If it means not saying anything at all for a while, that is okay too.
Calm down, think about what you want to say and develop the most appropriate way to respond, that is non-threatening but still gets your point across.
An important action to learn that will help you prepare for your responses is to listen well.
Listening involves much more than just allowing the other person to speak when they want to speak. It does not mean you must take in whatever your partner has to say. You are not required to listen to abusive communication.
Active listening can be easy once you learn how to do it. The steps include being present for your partner. Sit with them, face to face, and give them your undivided attention. Make sure your body language reflects that you are listening.
When listening, it is important to avoid getting defensive or interrupting to respond to a statement you found annoying. Be respectful of your partner and let them finish what they want to say. Try to remain objective to their feedback, using it more to improve versus being insulted.
When they are finished speaking give feedback that lets your partner know you were listening and that they were heard.
Communication, both listening and speaking, should be done with honesty.
Telling the truth with help you be honest in all other areas of your life. Say things that are true. Do not exaggerate and avoid lying. If you are not honest in simple communications, it will be hard to earn trust with your partner.
One of the best ways to be honest with your partner is to be honest with yourself. What do you need to communicate, why, and what do you hope to accomplish? If your truthful answers to these questions are positive, then it is an appropriate time to have the conversation.
If the answers to these questions are negative, or to hurt your partner, then you need to avoid the conversation.
Your actions need to match your words. Be okay with your partner’s responses, even if they differ from yours. Also, be able to accept honest feedback from your partner.
Open Your Arms to Feedback
Without feedback, communication does not happen effectively. Feedback is defined as when the receiver of a message reacts and responds to that message.
Feedback allows you to collect information from your partner. It also tells you if your communication skills are effective. If your partner consistently does not get the message you are trying to deliver, it may not be their fault. It may be in your delivery.
Without proper feedback, you will not be able to resolve problems, develop solutions or build trust in your relationship.
One way you can get better feedback from your partner is to be specific, so they can give authentic responses. Also, the more you communicate, the better you will both get at the process. Focus on both positives and negatives brought up during the conversation. Furthermore, be there for each other.
If you are absent in the relationship, it will be difficult to improve communication. The best conversations occur in person. You need to experience the expressions they make, the tears, the smiles, and hear the laughs that happen throughout communications.
When you take the time to be present, to show up, it gets noticed. It shows you care most about your partner and hearing what they have to say, and less about all of life’s other duties.
Being there makes your partner feel like you are invested in meeting the needs of your relationship. It lets them know they are at the top of your priorities. It lets them know you want to make the relationship work.
While communication is just one element of a successful relationship, it is one that should be practiced and improved constantly.
How to Improve Communication with Your Partner
If you would like to improve the clarity of communication between you and your partner, you may be interested in exploring couples therapy.
Couples therapy is a great resource for every couple, regardless if there is a relationship problem involved or not. In couples therapy, a licensed marriage & family therapist will provide you with the exercises and mindset needed to improve your communication skills together. This is one of the benefits couples experience while exploring therapy together.
Start with a Complimentary Consultation
If you are interested in learning more about the benefits of couples therapy, contact me to learn more about receiving a complimentary 15-minute phone consultation.
Photo by bruce mars