If there’s a silver bullet to solving relationship woes, it’s improving communication. Although it certainly works in a romantic context, this also applies to professional relationships, friendships, and anything in between.
By now this concept is likely a familiar one, both for people in healthy relationships and those in relationships that need some work. But understanding its importance and actually following through are two different things.
These six tips were designed to cut through the noise and help you hone in on the most important parts of communication in relationships — and how you can make them better.
Anyone who’s flown in an airplane over the past decade or so is familiar with one central piece of advice: In the event oxygen masks are needed, secure your own mask before attempting to secure the masks of others.
The same principle applies to communication. Before approaching your partner about an issue or question that’s on your mind, be sure you understand your own feelings on the matter.
Sometimes pinpointing your own emotions can be an easier process if you can approach it with a clear head. Try meditating, talk therapy, or just a quiet walk as a way of plugging into your thoughts more closely.
Listening might just be one of the most needed — and lacking — skills in society today. Simply paying attention to what your partner is saying, and what he or she wants or needs, can be the difference between effective communication and communication that fizzles before the finish line.
To keep yourself engaged during the conversation — and, even better, demonstrate that engagement — periodically repeat back what you’ve heard, followed by a confirming phrase like “did I understand you correctly?” Even if you didn’t get it quite right, your partner will appreciate the effort.
It’s not always what you say but how you say it.
If you’re about to tackle a tough topic, don’t allow past hurts or present irritation get in the way. Instead, pause for a moment and examine the situation before jumping in.
As you do this, examine your own approach to the discussion. Is it curt or condescending, or is it more neutral? Does it go for the throat or does it seek out the middle ground? Is there a benefit of the doubt or is blame already assumed? And last but not least, are you raising your voice, and if so, why?
Some partners don’t seem to respect each other’s perspectives or triggers. If this sounds familiar, you may need to set some boundaries.
This is critical if you feel like you’re always banging your head against the same metaphorical wall. Lay down some ground rules and avoid stumbling blocks before they appear.
Respect for each other’s schedules and lives is a common boundary to establish. Minding each other’s triggers could also be a productive rule.
Once you understand your own feelings and those of your partner, it will be easier to identify pain points in your communication — and how you can resolve them.
As with matters of tone, this point also focuses on how communication occurs. When you really think about it, communication is more about the “how” than anything else, which is perhaps what makes it so difficult to master.
Using statements that start with “I” puts the focus on yourself and your feelings, rather than immediately starting off by leveling accusations at the other person.
For example, instead of telling your partner “you never do the dishes,” instead say, “I get frustrated when the dishes aren’t done.” This is less accusatory and helps you better explain why the behavior is problematic.
Don’t wait for a fight — or a post-fight honeymoon period — to do the heavy lifting for all your communications needs.
For example, if you are able to resolve a disagreement over a certain household chore, touch base with your partner about it soon after. For example: “I wanted to see if you were still feeling OK about how the chores are being done.” Another possibility: “Could I get your feedback on how I did the chores today?”
Staying in close contact will help prevent small issues from becoming big, and will keep resolutions from being undone.
There are lots of ways to improve communication, and those will vary. These six tips apply to any relationship or situation and should serve you well regardless of relationship type or status.
Focusing on yourself and what you can control is a key factor, as is paying attention to your partner and what they want. Better communication can be tricky, but it is possible — all it takes is a little goodwill and a little concentration to turn even the most reluctant communicator into a bona fide relationship problem solver.
BlissMark provides information regarding health, wellness, and beauty. The information within this article is not intended to be medical advice. Before starting any diet or exercise routine, consult your physician. If you don’t have a primary care physician, the United States Health & Human Services department has a free online tool that can help you locate a clinic in your area. We are not medical professionals, have not verified or vetted any programs, and in no way intend our content to be anything more than informative and inspiring.
- Why BMI is misleading, and what metrics you should look at instead
- What you need to consider before quitting your job