Your Guide To Better Communication In Relationships
Better communication in relationships - 9 Easy steps
- 9 ways to transform arguments into productive conversations.
One of my principles is: “If you communicate well, your relationship can get through almost everything.”
I have taught many many people about strategies to better communication over the last seven years. Almost everyone wants to be able to have deep, productive and meaningful conversations with their partners.
The biggest problem when it comes to good communication is that no one tells us how. It's generally not something we learn growing up in school or as adults in our daily lives. Yet, nearly everyone I meet claims that they communicate well. But when I ask them questions, and we delve into their situations, we start to see a different perspective.
Things come up like:
- We argue too much and too often
- We have intense, loud arguments
- When we disagree we do not talk for days and it is unbearable for both of us
- I get really physically uneasy when he does not listen and doesn't understand me
- It seems to me that she doesn't think I want what is best for her. She always misunderstands me and assumes I have specific intentions that I don't and I get really mad
- I cannot sleep because we have these issues between us that we never sort out
- We disagree about a lot of things and we never find solutions so it adds up
I could go on. Here are nine of the best ways I recommend to improve inefficient and destructive communication:
❤ Make the decision to WANT better communication
It starts with a thought, an idea and a decision to end crappy communication. This usually happens when you've spun your wheels once too many times and it has to stop now.
A deliberate decision to want something different demands a change of habits that yield different (better) results. We need to break old habits, and that can be really hard. This is why it's important that you stick to your guns even though it can seem so overwhelming.
❤ Stop the insecurity
When we address more sticky topics, something that makes us feel vulnerable or involves your emotions, we often sabotage the conversation before it even starts. We're afraid, and we put up walls and try to protect ourselves.
Think about why this happens?
What is it that makes you insecure?
It could be something very trivial but guess what?
It is often the little things in our daily lives that need to be addressed for everything to fall in place. Then the door is open for better communication and feeling like you and your partner are in this together.
❤ Context creates security
What makes the conversations difficult or uncomfortable? How can you change that? What would help you to feel more comfortable bringing up what is on your mind and what effect your partner has on you?
Context is helpful in creating a feeling security and in turn this engenders more openness and honesty. Where you have the conversations as well as how you approach them will help you both to "see" the other person's perspective.
The more you feel secure in your relationship, the more your relationship will thrive and the more honest you can be with one another. Wow! I can be me without being judges, feeling like a fool or being put down. I can show my partner all of who I am and still be respected.
Better Communication in relationships - Step 4
❤ Introspection - What mistakes do you make?
If it was easier to see our own mistakes and correct them quickly I believe that the world would be a much better place. But it is SO hard. That being said, it is so worth trying if you dare.
“What is my part in our conversations that make things inefficient, argumentative or hurtful?"
When you become aware of what is really happening and see what you can do, you can intentionally work to make changes and great things can happen.
When you change your behavior, your partner will react in kind. And when that happens, your relationship will reap the benefits.
You just have to look at yourself and change what you do wrong. Now I would like to challenge you: What is the BIGGEST and most harmful mistake you make when you talk to your partner?
Better Communication in relationships - Step 5
❤ Listen, listen, listen and ask, ask, ask
You have two ears and a mouth. Do you know what I'm getting at? I believe you do. Parrallel monologues are way too common among couples when they have a conversation.
We incessantly talk about ourselves and try to convince our partner that we are right. We think about what we might say next or in response to something. So there's no way that we're really listening.
The more you listen and ask, the less you misunderstand your partner. A research study shows that up to 80 % of all arguments in a relationship arise from misunderstandings. The worst thing that can happen is that your partner starts to use your methods because they work. ;-)
Better Communication in relationships - Step 6
❤ Book a meeting
Okay, I know what you're thinking, but stay with me – it actually makes sense. The first few times I did it myself it was really awkward but now it's normal in my house and it has become a great habit.
When I say “book a meeting”, I am saying that I have something on my mind, and it should be taken seriously.
This is not the kind of topic you spontaneously talk about when you are out for a drive. No, you have to say:
“Hey, I have something that is really bothering me, do you have the time to talk with me about it Thursday when the children are asleep?”
I promise you that if you start booking these meetings when you have something on your mind you will see a drastic change in how much less you allow things to build up during the day. You show your partner that you prioritize yourself and the things going on in your life and that he or she is more than welcome to do the same.
Better Communication in relationships - Step 7
❤ Take a timeout
A timeout is basically to say:
“Darling, listen. I need a break from this conversation, I need some air to sort things out in my mind. I just need x minutes, and then we can talk more.”
That is TOTALLY fair and an overlooked factor in having a constructive conversation because sometimes it can become too much.
If you want to create a secure environment for your conversations you have to think about the timeout. If you are having trouble maintaining the conversation and need time to think things through, the timeout rule could come in handy.
But you have to return to the conversation or take responsibility to finish the conversation another time. It creates security for the partner who is ‘left’ in the conversation when you are on a timeout.
Better Communication in relationships - Step 8
❤ Be aware of communication at different levels
There are a lot of ways and different levels of how we talk to each other. When you have known each other for a while and have children in the house, your conversations often end up as family affairs, and you talk to each other on a more factual and informative level.
“Have you fed the dog?” -”How was your day at work?” –”Have you been to the grocery store?” etc. Questions that are necessary in our daily lives. These don't involve a deeper emotional connection and the questions can often be answered with a ‘yes’ or ‘no’.
Then there are the conversations where we share what we feel, what's inside. On the model of communication, this is level four. This is where we talk about our experiences, what we are thinking and what we are feeling. And no, you don't have be clingy or needy and talk about your inner stuff every night.
A nice chat once or twice a week as needed is vital to the relationship. It creates the feeling of being loved, being listened to, security etc. There are many benefits of being aware of how ‘deep’ conversations are.
Better Communication in relationships - Step 9
❤ Follow up and evaluate
With productive conversations come agreements. These agreements must be adhered to and when it's important to evaluate them. Are you still keeping the agreements? Is there something that needs to be adjusted or perhaps renegotiated? Is there something you need to talk about again?
It is not either/or. Either it runs great or it runs terribly. No. Think about it as a process where evaluation (despite the fact that it's a weighty word) is important because it affects the quality of your relationship and at the end of the day your life.
And now a little "Copypaste and" & "Easy to print" version ;-)
- Make the decision to WANT better communication
- Stop the insecurity
- Context creates security
- Introspection – What mistakes do you make?
- Listen, listen, listen and ask, ask, ask
- Book a meeting
- Take a timeout
- Be aware of communication at different levels
- Follow up and evaluate
Take care and promise me to use just one of my advices this week ❤