Curated from: Learn - shy
Sometimes you can tell just by looking at someone what they may be feeling. Other times, you find that you’re able to finish your partner’s sentences as if you were able to read their mind completely. It’s not always easy to achieve this though, and if we’re being honest, most of the time, this form of “assuming what the other is thinking” is the #1 cause of communication breakdowns in a relationship.
And it’s completely ok to have arguments. Disagreeing with each other is a completely normal, and dare we say, healthy part of being a couple. But the distinguishing factor is how you deal with these arguments, and that determines whether you emerge stronger together or ultimately end up calling it quits.
Proper communication in relationships is the key to a more intimate and vulnerable bond with our partner. Whether you’re a new couple or have been together for ages, here are some strategies to improve your communication skills!
1. Process your own feelings first
In order to have a coherent, conflict-free conversation with your partner about the issue at hand, be sure to process your own feelings on the subject to calm yourself down first and remove yourself from the influx of negative emotions.
Once you clear your head, you begin to process the situation in a more objective, logical manner, where you will be able to bring better points across to facilitate a meaningful discussion.
Remember that the key to fixing communication issues is to have empathy
While looking at the situation in a more objective manner, one thing you might not have thought of is that it would be useful to consider things from your partner’s perspective. In a disagreement, it’s very easy to end up ignoring your partner’s side of the story. What you want from the conversation is to listen to understand, and not listen just to think of your counter argument.
2. Identify you and your partner’s communication styles
*Hot tip: Learn about each other’s communication style before you get into any disagreements! Try this quiz
Before you embark on learning how to improve communication, you must first understand how you and your partner communicate because everyone has a different style of communication. In psychology, the four main communication styles are:
Passive: Those that tend to avoid confrontation, prefer hiding their emotions, or can never say no.
Aggressive: You’ll definitely see and hear those who are of this communication style. At their worst, aggressive communicators come across as commanding and rude, with a failure to listen to others.
Passive-aggressive: Those that avoid conflict, but will always make it known to you that they are unhappy about something through the usage of sarcasm to deflect real communication.
Assertive: Thought to be the most healthy communication style, assertive communicators are those that are able to express their thoughts and feelings effectively.
Learn more about the communication types here and the steps to take to become more assertive communicators
3. Delivering the message at the right time and context
Always let your partner know that you intend to have a conversation with them
When it comes to an issue that can cause some heated debates, choosing the right time to talk to your partner about it can seriously make a difference. By telling them when you intend to talk about it, you can decide on a date and time that allows both of you to be in the right headspace.
Informing them about your intention to talk about the issue beforehand also gives your partner sufficient time to prepare what they want to discuss with you so that the conversation can be a productive one for both of you. At the same time, your partner will also not be blindsided into having the conversation if they were not ready previously — reducing the potential to add more negative emotions to the mix.
When you make statements, start with “I” statements and feelings
This is a good tactic to get your own point across, while also sounding less accusatory. For example, “you don’t spend enough time with me” vs “I feel hurt that we are not spending enough time together”. The first statement has an edge of ambiguity as you expect your partner to know how you feel in the situation. So they don’t spend enough time with you, then what? It also provides the avenue for your partner to rebut with all the other things they have on their plate, making you come across as less understanding.
Don’t turn your conversation into a competition
If your goal of having this conversation is to win, then you’re doing it wrong. A relationship works best when both partners are treated as equals, even when it comes to the arguments that you have. While you may not agree with their views, do listen to what they have to say and where they are coming from, instead of needing to one up them to have the final say.
By listening to understand, you will also be able to better sieve out the areas where you can change on your own, and what you would need to work on together.
4. Having a resolution to your conversation
Lastly, have conversations with intent, and in this context, it means that you come to a conclusion. What is it that you had an issue with in the first place, and how would you like that issue to be resolved? Is your partner able to provide this need of yours, or would you both need to come to a compromise?
Most of the time, a resolution would come with some form of compromise to meet in the middle, and from there, you can proceed on how you would like to work together to achieve this so that you both can be happier in the relationship. Remember that once the conversation is over, you both should feel as though the issue came to a conclusion, and not something that you put on pause.
To improve communication in relationships and truly understand what your partner is telling you, be present.
It’s difficult to listen and be fully aware and mindful when you’re processing negative emotions, or if you already feel unhappy and detached from your relationship.
Remember that intimacy, love and trust are built when times are hard, not when they’re easy. If we gave up at every sign of resistance, the relationship would never progress and improve. Take each setback as a stepping stone to learn how to deal with conflict and stress in a healthy manner, and watch as you grow and flourish with your partner 🤍