I think most of us can agree that relationships are not always smooth sailing.
Some are great, some are mediocre, and some are just plain terrible. There are many reasons and many factors that play a role, but a lack of communication skills is a common reason.
You’ve got people who don’t like to talk about issues, those that are afraid to express their feelings, those that pretend there are no issues, and those that scream about their issues.
Then when some do communicate about an issue, they’re using negative resolution skills like the silent treatment, or the “I’m out of here”, slamming the door treatment.
With the divorce and break-up rate being so high, I think that every person ought to be aware of the importance of open communication in a relationship.
So often we hold things until we want to explode or harp on little things that really aren’t that big of a deal.
Communication styles vary, so it is wise to gauge yours and other peoples’ styles so that you can be aware of potential pitfalls.
For example, a person may tend to reveal their emotions to their partner just to inform them, but to the partner, it sounds a lot like a complaint. The person may just want to be heard and acknowledged, but the partner will tend to want to fix the problem.
They may suggest this or that when all they really want is to be heard and affirmed.
A simple, “Honey, I am sorry that you are feeling that way. Is there anything I can do? Come here and let me give you a hug,” nine out of ten times would suffice.
We tend to complicate things.
I know for myself, I’ve had difficulty in the past (and sometimes present) voicing my feelings to a partner, friend, or family member. Why? I avoid conflict. I tend to stuff things and let multiple things build up. This isn’t a healthy skill.
It is important to be able to communicate well with others.
When there is friction or tension between you and another person, or you have to stuff your feelings down out of fear of telling them things, your atmosphere may bring you an abundance of stress. The good news is you can learn skills that will help you communicate effectively with others.
Here are 10 ways you can improve your communication:
Before you go to talk to someone, prepare yourself.
Know what you are going to talk about. If you want to voice your opinion, know what your opinion is. Need to say that you feel offended? Be prepared that the other person may or may not take it well. If you need to make a list, go ahead. Also, be positive. It helps!
Don’t beat around the bush.
Be specific and put it out on the table with a smile on your face. Once you’ve stated your desires, listen intently to what the other person says and reiterate what their response is. You want them to know you completely understand them.
Do your best to keep it together while you’re relating with others.
If you become emotional, it’s alright, but try to keep it to a minimum while you’re talking. Some people may immediately shut down if the person they are talking to becomes emotional.
They may not be able to hold that space for you to speak your voice and the emotions. Do your best to stay centered as you discuss your topic.
Take responsibility for your side of the street, so to speak.
If you’ve been slack in the relationship or missed the mark, apologize and own up to that. If you’ve made mistakes, come up with a plan to correct them or make changes so they don’t happen again. Being responsible will cause others to acknowledge your maturity and aim to do the same.
In addition to being responsible, be accountable for your actions.
Fix what can be fixed and give others a reminder that you will do what it takes to maintain a healthy relationship.
Don’t be afraid to be confident in what you desire.
This will lessen the chance of others saying no to your wants or needs. And, understand that it’s alright to have wants and needs.
Be sure to smile and show that you enjoy someone’s presence.
Relax and remember that the person you’re communicating with is just another person. Be happy and interested in what they are saying. Nod your head in agreement to show that you are listening.
Body language is more important than you think in communication, so use it to your advantage.
Be sure to make eye contact regularly and sit up straight. Turn slightly toward the person you’re talking to and lean in a little. Your body language should cause others to think of you as an interested person who is confident and secure.
When you want to have a discussion with someone, be sure to ask them to meet when it is convenient for both of you.
You don’t want to meet at an inconvenient time or when either of you are feeling rushed.
Improving communication skills takes practice.
Give yourself some time to learn new skills and practice them as often as you can. If something doesn’t go as planned, it’s alright. Try again another time. Be gentle with yourself as you boost your communication skills.
I suggest reading books that address communication skills in relationships and heed the advice and techniques given. A couple of good books include:
Communication skills can be improved immensely with the right attitude and tools. I can vouch for myself that I have come a long way through the years and will continue to improve in this area.
You can too!