How to communicate better
We can all agree that tension, arguments and fights bring unwanted stress to relationships. If they are swept under the rug, over time they can erode our connection to the people we love most. From a cold shoulder to a passive aggressive comment, there are many verbal and non-verbal communications that can really get your back up. Effective communication builds intimacy, trust and happiness, so you can love more and fight less. Here are our top tips for becoming a communication boss.
· Make space to talk. It’s really important that you and your partner schedule time (once a month should do it) to go over all the aspects of the relationship. From money to health, family, work, travel, projects, kids and sex, you must do your relationship maintenance. If you have an issue, you don’t want to bring it up when things are good; who would want to ruin the good times? On the contrary, you don’t want to bring it up when things are unsteady because it might put you further in the hole. Make intentional space so that nothing gets swept under the rug.
· Clarify the communication. Nothing is more annoying than when you just want to share how you feel and your partner comes up with a long list of solutions to fix your problems! Before you make assumptions, ask yourself and your partner this question: what is the intention of this communication? Do I want to share my thoughts, feelings or ideas? Do I need to get something off my chest? Am I looking for advice, help or solutions? Know the answer, that way you won’t get pissed if they have a different intention.
· Check in. No one likes to be constantly dumped on. Instead of thinking purely about yourself, ask your partner if they have the emotional capacity for the conversation. After a stressful work week, nagging kids and painful in-laws to visit, it’s not always the ideal time for a relationship chat. Be strategic and optimize the best possible outcome for you both. Re-schedule your chat if you don’t have the energy.
· Actively listen. You know that feeling of wanting to pull your hair out because someone isn’t really listening to you in a conversation? Well it’s not very nice, so make sure you show up. Give eye contact, mental presence, paraphrase, ask questions, clarify and reflect body language. This will make your partner feel valued, appreciated and respected.
· Validate. When sharing our thoughts and feelings, most of the time we just want to be validated. This is hugely re-assuring and shows empathy. Instead of cutting off, ignoring, judging or changing the subject, try comments like: “It makes sense that you feel…” or “I can see why you think that way” or “I would feel that way too in your situation”.
Instead of allowing emotions to dictate communication, it is much more effective to go into them strategically, especially the important ones. None of us went to relationship school, so this is your cheat sheet of communication essentials. If you want the best possible outcome, implement the best procedure.
“I’m so willing to listen to you and be empathetic to your perspective while you’re yelling at me” – said no one ever.