“ Communication is authoritative because it fosters hope and connection, ” explains Shelley Sommerfeldt, PsyD, a clinical psychologist who specializes in relationships. “ In decree to have an candid, honest, and vulnerable kinship with our partner, we must be able to freely communicate in a healthy manner. ”
Whether you ’ re fair starting out as a pair or have been in concert for years, these strategies can help you both improve your communication skills.
Recognizing poor communication
Before you can get to work on improving your communication skills, it ’ south authoritative to first identify the areas that need some workplace. here are some signs to look for .
Passive aggressive behavior
passive aggression is a way of expressing shroud anger alternatively of addressing conflict head-on. This might look like :
- cracking jokes about your partner always being late
- punishing them for being late by giving the silent treatment
- making digs about their decisions
All of these behaviors allow you to express your frustration without actually having to talk about it. It might feel satisfying in the here and now, but it won ’ thymine serve you any favors in the long carry .
Brushing things under the rug
Simply avoiding conflicts won ’ triiodothyronine aid, either. Ignoring issues just gives them the quad and time to build up into something larger down the road .
Using aggressive speech
Becoming openly defensive or hostile when talking to your partner is a sign you ’ ve fallen into a toxic communication pattern. aggressive speech can involve :
- raising your voice
- blaming or criticizing
- controlling or dominating the conversation
Tips for better communication
Recognize any of the above signs in your relationship ? These tips can help you foster more open and honest communication .
Process your feelings first
Before talking with your partner about an issue that ’ second upsetting for you, be sure to process your own feelings on the subject and sedate yourself beginning, says Sommerfeldt .
“ If we go into a conversation feeling very angry, overturned or besides emotional, then the communication tends to become excessively heat and unmanageable to find resoluteness, ” says Sommerfeldt .
Try taking a promptly walk or listening to relaxing music before talking to your partner. That way you ’ ll be more in command of your emotions and be able to communicate well .
Thinking about timing
Choosing the right time to talk with your partner can make all the remainder, Sommerfeldt notes. If something ’ sulfur weighing on your heed, give your collaborator a heads up that you ’ d like to sit down and talk. “ If your partner knows that you ’ d like to speak with them, this can help de-escalate the situation a good because they are less probable to feel ambush or blindsided with a heated debate, ” Sommerfeldt says .
Start with ‘I’ statements and feelings
How we speak to our collaborator can make all the difference. Often, couples begin a conversation by pointing the finger at the other person and place blame, says Sommerfeldt. She recommends beginning conversations with how you are feeling. You can ensure you do this by using statements that start with “ I. ”
For exemplar, rather of calling out your collaborator for focusing besides much on shape, you could say, “ I feel hurt when you always focus on work. ” This is less accusative than saying, “ You ’ re constantly focusing on work. ”
Focus on being both being heard and listening
“ many couples enter conversations as though they are debates or arguments that they must win, ” says Sommerfeldt. While you may not agree with your partner ’ second compass point of watch, it ’ south important to actually listen to why they feel the way they do. They should do the same for you.
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When having a discussion, don ’ t make it a rival to see who wins. rather, actively listen and try to understand their point of view .
Make compromising and resolution the goal
“ Remember that the concenter of communication with your partner is coming to an understand, ” Sommerfeldt explains. Whether you ’ re bringing up injury feelings or addressing conflicting ideas about future plans, both of you should leave a conversation feel as though there ’ s some kind of resolution. More much than not, that solution relies on some grade of compromise, whether it ’ second about the division of chores or making fiscal decisions. “ This helps people forgive and move forward, ” she adds. “ It can besides bring on feelings of strength and connection between partners. ”
Set clear boundaries
Placing firm boundaries can besides help avoid any miscommunication, advises Cali Estes, PhD. For model, if finances are a sensitive point, consider coming up with some boundaries. possibly you decide that any purchase over $ 500 must be discussed and approved by both parties before pulling the trigger .
Leave notes for your partner
It might seem minor, but leaving a note to let your partner know what you ’ re doing can be extremely helpful, says Estes. In accession to providing virtual information, it shows your partner that you ’ rhenium think of them and being considerate of their potential worries about where you are. If you know you ’ ll be meeting up with a supporter after getting groceries, leave a quick bill letting your spouse know .
Regularly check-in throughout the day
similarly, Estes recommends doing regular check-ins in the dawn, around lunchtime, and in the evening .
“ This would include taking what I call your mood temperature, ” Estes says. “ If you ’ re in a bad climate, you want your partner to know before you explode. ” Try using a plate of 1 to 10 to let your spouse know how your day is going .
Communication pitfalls to avoid
When it comes to communication, there are things you ’ ll want to avoid whenever possible .
The silent treatment
“ People frequently adopt the silent discussion thinking it ’ south setting boundaries, ” says licensed therapist, Jor-El Caraballo, “ but boundaries work well when communicated explicitly with a partner, otherwise they may not realize they ’ ve crossed one. ”
It ’ second better to be assertive about a limit, Caraballo adds, than to assume that a partner knows why you ’ ra distress and shut them out, which can often cause more damage to a relationship .
Bringing up past mistakes
It ’ south easy to fall into the habit of rehashing the past during a heat moment. regularly dredging up your partner ’ sulfur mistakes can be counterproductive and just make them more defensive .
Yelling or screaming
Raising your voice during an argument or resorting to yelling and screaming is an ineffective way to process your anger. In the long term, it can cause arguments to become more intense and erode your partner ’ randomness self-esteem .
Stonewalling or walking away mid-argument is a room of disengaging from your partner and leaving conflict unresolved .
It ’ s apprehensible to feel overpower and need a timeout. Be certain to explain that you need to take a moment away from the conversation .
Sarcasm and put-downs
Be mindful of inappropriate humor when you ’ re in the midst of arguing. If you want to break the frost, it ’ mho better to make a harmless jest about yourself than say something negative about them .
Disrespectful nonverbal behavior
body terminology can communicate volumes. Checking your telephone alternatively of facing them and making eye contact, for exemplar, can make the other person feel disrespected .
The bottom line
effective communication is the initiation of a successful relationship, but that doesn ’ t entail it ’ sulfur always easy. If you ’ re having a hard time working through communications in your kinship, consider seeing a therapist, either on your own or with your collaborator, to work through any underlie issues and develop some new tools.
Cindy Lamothe is a freelance journalist based in Guatemala. She writes frequently about the intersections between health, health, and the skill of human demeanor. She ’ sulfur written for The Atlantic, New York Magazine, Teen Vogue, Quartz, The Washington Post, and many more. Find her at cindylamothe.com .