Relationships are precious and help us form a sense of who we are. Even though we may have differing viewpoints, relationships can be happy, wonderful, and fulfilling if we can feel nurtured, understood, and appreciated.
Love and respect are the foundations for healthy relationships. As well-known psychotherapist Virginia Satir explains, “Feelings of worth can flourish only in an atmosphere where individual differences are appreciated, mistakes are tolerated, communication is open, and rules are flexible—the kind of atmosphere that is found in a nurturing family.”
Sometimes relationships can be frustrating and confusing. You may think you are communicating well with your partner, only to realize that you have been misunderstood. Feelings get bent out of shape, which can lead to instant conflict.
It’s also possible to improve relationships. By learning and using more effective communication strategies, you can build a stronger and happier relationship with your partner and secure a sense of love and respect.
Communication involves so much more than what we say. Partners must choose to improve their communication by honestly sharing how they feel and what they are expecting from each other. Learning to communicate better can bring your relationship to a whole new level and reduce stress and conflict.
Besides making communication with your partner easier and more productive, these strategies can help you communicate better with everyone around you.
Using “I” statements rather than “you” statements allows you to take personal responsibility for your own feelings without placing blame. Saying “I feel angry when you speak to me like that” enables you to stand up for yourself without attacking your partner. After all, your perception of what’s happening is what you need to communicate to others.
Be direct. Get to the point as clearly and respectfully as possible in order to increase understanding and reduce confusion. This strategy helps to keep it simple and allows you a chance to clarify without conflict.
Visual cues help assess the effectiveness of communication. Communication involves more than just what we say, it is also how we say it. Learning to read the body language and facial expressions of others, as well being aware of your own, will reduce conflict and keep communication clearer.
Effective listening immediately makes a difference in how we communicate in relationships. Effective listening is not just hearing what the other person is saying. It means respectfully listening in order to understand how they feel and their perception or views of the situation. Effective listening means really taking the time to hear them out and not interrupting. Waiting patiently to reply, even if you disagree, is a sign of respect and conveys to your partner that you have taken the time to process what they have said. Effective listening shows that your partner is important to you. In relationships that are having difficulty with communication, it is generally due to lack of effective listening.
Being polite and respectful helps reduce conflict and stress when communicating with your partners. Remembering to use manners shows your partner that you care about your relationship, and allows your partner a chance to calmly receive your message. Manners are important!
Stay positive and patient. It conveys a sense of respect, desire to reduce conflict, cooperation, and compromise. Keeping a positive attitude about an agreeable outcome and staying patient will create a calm environment for discussion without the potential sabotage of aggression.
Addressing the present situation keeps discussions on a productive path. Focusing the discussion on solving the current conflict or issue prevents bringing up past problems that will only escalate the conflict.
Communication is an important element in every relationship. We do it every day in so many ways. With some minor changes to how you communicate with your partner, you can instantly make a remarkable difference in your relationship. It’s a life skill, and yes, you have to practice at it to get better. When you choose to take personal responsibility by communicating in a direct manner, you are on the right course to happiness. Some little changes in how you communicate with your partner will encourage them to more effectively communicate back.
© Copyright 2010 by Beth S. Pumerantz, LMFT. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to GoodTherapy.org.
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