9 Ways to Improve Communication Skills in Your Relationship
Have you ever noticed that it’s often the most important people in our lives that we tend to treat the worst?
There are hundreds of things we could blame for this. Yet, most of the time it’s simply that we fall in a rut of familiarity. Plus, in the midst of our daily routines, we can easily get stuck in a pattern of negative communication habits.
These habits impact our lives in a big way, especially our relationships.
If you’ve ever felt that you keep going in circles in your relationships, it’s likely because there’s some kind of a hang-up in your communication efforts. Through awareness and observation, however, you can spot where your communication skills fall short.
Here are nine ways to improve.
Improving Communication Skills in Your Relationships
According to marital expert John Gottman, how you start a difficult discussion is the most accurate indicator of how the discussion will end. But how do you actually communicate effectively from the beginning to the end of a discussion?
1. Let Your Partner Influence You
To maintain a positive perspective on your relationship, it’s vital to let your partner influence you. This means allowing yourself to be moldable, flexible, and changeable.
Always sticking to your guns, or to your way of doing things, isn’t conducive to effective communication. In fact, it can create a gap between you and your partner by building up defensive walls.
2. Know Your Outcome Before You Start
What is the purpose of the conversation? To reach a goal—whether running a marathon, sailing the seas, or having a productive conversation—you must first identify your targeted outcome.
Before you start the conversation, ask yourself what you want to get out of this talk in the first place. With a focused aim, scattershot complaining or blame-casting isn’t likely to happen.
3. Use a Soft Approach
A soft approach, especially when dealing with a sensitive topic, is a meaningful way to connect with your partner. It also encourages a less defensive response from them.
Essentially, to implement a soft approach, use “I” statements opposed to unintentionally casting blame. For example, “I feel upset doing the dishes alone after you offered to help,” rather than, “You always promise to help me and never do.”
4. Weather the Storm
Every relationship has its own unique ebb and flow. In a long-term relationship, it’s important to ride out the waves—for better or worse.
Even in the midst of an intense discussion or even a full-blown argument, remember your team colours. Stay dedicated to weathering the storms of life together, safeguarding your intimate connection. In short, choose words that will help you stay afloat.
5. Avoid Being Defensive
Let’s be real, being defensive is really easy. It takes about two seconds for a person’s “walls” to shoot up toward the sky. Harsh words can dart out from an emotional fortress about as speedy as an arrow. After all, we’re human and protecting ourselves is an innate trait.
With that said, you shouldn’t need to protect yourself from your partner. One communication skill to develop is simply to avoid being defensive. Remember, keep your guard down and your tongue in check.
6. Commit to Vulnerability
Along those same lines of avoiding defensiveness, commit to vulnerability. Strong relationships contain plenty of vulnerable moments. Think of open-mindedness and soft-heartedness like glue, sticking you two together.
Being vulnerable in conversation means listening to each other and taking the time to truly understand one another. Furthermore, it’s validating your partner’s thoughts and feelings too.
7. Only Hold Yourself Accountable
The dynamics of an intimate relationship aren’t exactly like having a gym buddy. When your partner “fails,” it’s not productive to call them out on it.
In a relationship, you only hold yourself accountable. Don’t hold your partner accountable.
8. Acknowledge That There’s Always a Choice
We all make choices every day. Sometimes, however, it may seem that other people don’t give us a choice about how we respond. But, the fact is, we always have a choice.
Even with our significant other, we make the choice on how we respond—words, tone, gestures, etc. Thus, to improve communication skills in your relationship, empower yourself with decision-making skills focused on finding a solution.
9. Give It Another Go
Great inventions, accomplishments, or ventures rarely happen on the first try. The same goes with relationships, especially when it comes to building communication skills. So, keep trying. Practice acceptance and forgiveness, keep asking for forgiveness and try to talk it out.
If the outlook seems blurry, change your lens, so to speak. Most importantly, give it another go.
For support in building communication skills in your relationship, contact me today (07) 32825453 . Counselling can help you navigate through any roadblocks you may be experiencing.