What’s the #1 thing I do as a couples counselor? Improving communication in marriage. It changes everything. If you are being heard and are hearing your partner in turn, the rest just becomes logistics.
In relationships, there is always a certain amount of give and take and nowhere is this give and take showcased better than every time you communicate. Regardless of how personal your relationship is with someone, communication is the key that paves the way to develop a more intimate understanding between you and your partner.
Talk. Listen. Repeat.
Whether at work, at home or in a relationship, your skills in communication will make or break you. Luckily if you are bad at communication, you can take heart in knowing that as far as skills go, this is one that can be improved. People fail to realize that communication involves two different people who bring two different skills to the table. Emotions, mindsets, skill sets and more make it harder to get your message across to someone, but the trick lies in actually understanding what true communication is.
Communication with your partner does not begin automatically when you are talking to them nor does the fact that you know a person well means you can communicate with them effectively. True communication lies in understanding shared concepts. What are they saying? What are the REALLY trying to convey?
Often times, there is a lot at stake, which can still make it difficult for someone to get their message across. This is one of the major reasons why you need to learn to get your message across effectively. When you are able to do this with ease, you will definitely feel the difference in your communications skills too.
Now one of the most basic ways through which you can do this is by making yourself stop, listen and actually process what someone is saying to you; in short, take the time to actively listen. Many people are so focused on preparing their response, they don’t take the time to consider whether the response they have prepared is appropriate or not. They usually end up regretting what they said, forgetting about and what they talked about or not focusing enough on the main subject.
A little effort goes a long way.
Good communication lies in accepting the other person as someone who will have differing opinions wants and needs. Even when they do accept them, they tend to space out once a particular person starts to talk to them. Below are a few tips on beginning the process of improved communication and connection:
- Assessing your emotional mood – You are going to have to do this every single time you need to talk to someone or have a serious discussion about something. If the other person does not ask, then you ask yourself “Can I talk about this right now?” If you don’t feel like you can handle the scenarios, you have the right to ask to talk about it later, taking a small break in between. No one else but you can make your channels of communication stronger and effective so why not try to do that? People tend to find this process extremely beneficial. The funny part about it is just how many people find it eye opening because it never crossed their mind earlier to take these things into account.
- Avoid mind reading – This is one of the worst qualities you could have. In an attempt to empathize with someone, you end up thinking for them, assuming what they might be feeling about you or trying to guess what they could be saying. At the end of the day, you have to realize one thing; mind reading is only going to get you into trouble. Why? Because you are not actually communicating with the person. You are just projecting your thoughts, emotions and feelings on to another person and no one likes that. Don’t be surprised if every time you try to talk to someone about feelings or emotions or try to offer them advice, they pull back. It’s not because you give bad advice. It’s because you are trying to be a mind reader.
- Inflection and Tone – The way you state something can play a huge role in determining how successfully someone actually listens to you. Tone of voice and the manner of saying something can affect your partner. Like the old adage goes, you are more likely to catch flies with honey than with vinegar and having a tongue sweetened with honey will definitely help to get your message across.
- Nonverbal body language – The body language you exhibit will communicate how you feel in a certain manner. Whether you stand with hands crossed, show lack of eye of contact or are showing disinterest by turning away from someone, the other person will be able to see that you are not interested in continuing the conversation or are blocking them off. On the other hand, more open, welcoming body language will showcase interest and will make you feel like someone is interested in communicating with you. Pay attention to the body language you exhibit as well, you could be showing disinterest without realizing it.
- Staying Focused – The worst part about communicating with someone is how you easily let one topic crash into another. Focusing on the present topic is the option for you. Don’t let one conversation turn into a marathon of accusations where you drag each other’s history out and play the blame game. When discussing something, stay present, stay focused and stay relevant on what is being discussed.
Communicating is a two way street and it can be tricky as well, but it is something that can be improved. Whether you are talking to your partner, your friend or even your boss, communicating effectively can change your life and draw your closer to the ones you love. Everyone wants to be heard – but first you have to give the gift of listening.