If you are like most people, you want to have healthy and exciting relationships with the people that matter in your life. It might also be possible that you have learned that healthy relationships do not happen by chance or wishful thinking but by choice. These relationships are intentionally created and developed over time and good communication is essential to sustain them.
While this may be true, I wonder if sometimes you feel like improving your communication skills to connect better with others. This is because you occasionally misunderstand what the other person is saying or meaning. Also, sometimes you feel misunderstood, or you respond out of anger leading to nasty arguments. All these communication blunders could be avoided if we worked on our communication skills.
The dilemma is that most of us do not understand how exactly communication, or the lack of it, impacts our relationships. We think that improving our communication skills applies to newscasters or communication professionals. Far from it! Communication is the only way for your friend or spouse or partner to get an insight into what you are thinking. It is a way for them to understand how you feel about particular issues, especially when you have misgivings about certain actions of them and want them to change.
It is important to comprehend that during conversations, you do not always have to be right, but rather you should be willing to meet the other person halfway. Bear that in mind. Healthy communication styles require practice and hard work. This is because each person has their own way of communicating. Therefore, there is need for both of you to understand each other’s style and reach a way of communicating that suits the relationship. Communication will never be perfect all the time.
Here are some ways to improve communication in a relationship.
1: Be Clear
“It is useful take a few moments to answer the “what” and “why” so that you are more specific and clearer in what you say…”
Be clear about what you want to say and understand the reasons why you want/need to communicate the message. This is to ensure that your message can be received and understood. Therefore, it is useful take a few moments to answer the “what” and “why” so that you are more specific and clearer in what you say.
Obviously, you will not do this all the time, but when the message is of importance, it is crucial. For the recipient of the message, it is important to double check your understanding of what the other is saying through asking questions, reflecting or paraphrasing what they said. For instance say: I hear you say you feel unappreciated when I . . . Is that what you are saying?
2: Active Listening
“Put aside your own views and assumptions for the time being and try to understand their intentions, feelings, needs and wants.”
Communication is not just about talking, it is also about being an active listener. Listening is a skill that calls for you to develop a genuine interest in the other person. Put aside your own views and assumptions for the time being and try to understand their intentions, feelings, needs and wants. This means you listen to your partner/friend /colleague without getting defensive and judgmental to understand their point of view. So, make sure you’re really in the moment and listen with an open mind.
3: Be Honest
“It is always better to explore the potential of a relationship than to build a castle of lies.”
Talk about what is happening and how it is affecting you. Honesty is the key to a fulfilling and healthy relationship. Lying about how you feel about the relationship might temporarily prevent the situation, but it is going to come back even bigger in the future. Sometimes in romantic relationships, it could get uncomfortable to talk about how one truly feels. However, honesty is better than long-term regret.
There is a need to provide an open and safe space to speak about your feelings, expectations, and desires. It is always better to explore the potential of a relationship than to build a castle of lies. Honesty will help you and your partner to solve problems more efficiently.
4: Pay Close Attention
“There are times when your partner will be desperately calling for help, but you might not notice it…”
It is important to pay attention to nonverbal communication. There are times when your partner will be desperately calling for help, but you might not notice it thinking they will talk about it if there is a problem. Communication is not always about talking but also about what is unspoken.
This means taking time to understand someone’s body language so that you can identity when something is amiss. Therefore, pay attention to their tone, eye contact, gestures, posture, facial expression, nodding, clenched jaw, and rolling eyes. They all speak for us more than our speech does.
5: Stop the Blame Game
Stop the blame game. When something goes wrong, it’s easy to point the finger of blame. This can easily break communication in a relationship. In some relationships, the frequency of blame is high to such an extent that it takes the shape of domestic violence. Statements like, “if you wouldn’t have done that then I wouldn’t have had to do this” can damage a relationship.
Instead, it is worthy trying to express what hurt you in a clear way by use of “I” statements rather than “you” statements. This approach can lead to building a strong and trustworthy relationship.
It is important to learn to negotiate and remember that you do not have to be right all the time. If the issue you are having is not that important, try to let the issue go, or agree to disagree.
Relationships are easier if they involve healthy communication among the people involved. When each one knows how the other person thinks and feels about certain things, there is more transparency and freedom in the relation.
Communication will either make or break your relationship. You can improve your relationship today and right now by practicing some of the six strategies we have discussed above.
Good communication is essential in any healthy relationship. It is true that every relationship has its ups and downs, and conflict goes with the territory. But a healthy communication style can make it easier to deal with conflict and build a stronger and healthier partnership.
Use our Karmascore App to keep track of the communication patterns in your relationships. You can even create a journal about them and review any time you want. Download the app now at Google Play Store and share with us your experience.
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Written by Edith Mecha, Social Media Manager of Karmascore