By Eleanor Beeslaar
Open and honest communication is an important part of building a healthy relationship. When you and your partner can speak freely with respect, compassion, and genuine concern for one another’s feelings, you can create a relationship where you both feel valued, safe, and accepted.
Here are some tips to help you communicate better in your relationships:
- Aim for understanding:Try your best to understand one another’s point of view and avoid making assumptions.
- Listen: Focus on what your partner is trying to tell you instead of thinking about your next point or comeback.
- Compromise: Work with your partner to come up with a solution that meets both of your needs.
- Avoid hurtful language: It is easy to fall back on insults and hurtful words when we are upset, but it is important to avoid saying things that will hurt your partner’s feelings.
- Be respectful: It is important to show respect and concern for your partner’s feelings, even when experiencing intense emotions.
- Find the right time to talk: Set up a time to talk about something that is really bothering you. This will help ensure that you and your partner will both be calm and the conversation won’t be rushed.
- Talk face to face: Avoid texting about serious issues and talk in-person instead; this will help avoid miscommunication. If you have trouble collecting your thoughts, write them down before you talk.
- Avoid personal attacks: Avoid “you statements” and absolutes, such as “you always” or “you never.” These can lead to defensiveness and hinder your partner’s receptiveness to what you are trying to say. Instead, use “I statements” and talk about how a problem makes you feel.
- Be honest: Agree to be honest with one another, and admit to your mistakes and apologize.
- Be aware of your body language: Show your partner that you are paying attention to them through your body language. Turn towards them when they are talking, maintain eye contact, and listen and respond to what they are saying. Be sure to avoid distractions, such as checking your phone.
- The 48 hour rule: If you were not able to talk to your partner after they said or did something that upset you, and you still feel upset after 48 hours, address it with your partner. If not, consider letting it go.
Healthy communication isn’t always easy and takes a conscious effort, especially when you’re angry. Though it’s okay to feel angry in your relationship, it’s important to communicate these feelings in a healthy way that promotes conflict resolution.
Here are some helpful steps to consider when communicating while feeling angry:
- Stop: If you get really upset or angry, stop and breathe. You can respectfully tell your partner that you need some time to cool down before talking. This can keep the situation from escalating and help you communicate more effectively when it is revisited.
- Think: When you have calmed down, think about why you felt so upset or angry about the situation. This will help you find the root of the problem and communicate your feelings to your partner.
- Talk: Talk to your partner about the situation and why you felt angry or upset. Remember to keep the tips we talked about earlier in mind!
- Listen: Listen to what your partner has to say. You both deserve an opportunity to express how you feel.
The tips and strategies above are not only useful when communicating within a dating relationship. In fact, they can enhance communication in all types of relationships! We encourage you to try some of these strategies the next time you communicate with your partner, a friend, a parent, or a sibling!
The information in this post was adapted from loveisrespect.org. Visit https://www.loveisrespect.org/healthy-relationships/communicate-better/ for more information.
Loveisrespect.org (2017). Tips for Better Communication. Retrieved from https://www.loveisrespect.org/healthy-relationships/communicate-better/