My belief is that many relationship issues or breakups are often caused by either lack of communication, or doing it ineffectively.
Men and women communicate differently, and we are not often taught how the opposite sex communicates with us or how to better communicate with them. This, as one can imagine, is a fundamental problem when it comes to actually forming a bond and building a life with someone. I suppose this is reminiscent of ‘Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus,’ which is a book I should probably read at some point.
In this article I would like to communicate (see what I did there?) some lessons I have learned along the way regarding how to transition thoughts from our minds to someone else’s. (Men, since we are usually the ones being faulted for the inability to communicate, you may want to read closely).
Avoid blame altogether.
One thing people often tell me is that I am diplomatic. It has actually been suggested that I get into politics (more than once), but I think I like writing better.
Anyway, one thing I have always done in business and in relationships, is never put weight on the person I was talking to. Instead of saying “Why do you feel that way?” Try: “What can I do to make it better?” Instead of “You never make me feel…” try “I don’t usually feel…”
The idea here is to lighten the burden of whatever message you are trying to get across and even take responsibility for it. When you start using “you” statements, the other person may feel attacked or at fault for whatever is going on, and become defensive. The only thing this is going to do is close off the very lines of communication you were trying to build in the first place.
Do not compare him/her to someone else.
Communication, both positive or negative, is best left between the two people doing the talking. If you start comparing what they do to things that someone else does better, things can get ugly very quickly.
Be as calm and descriptive as you can.
This refers back to the first point when we are taking responsibility for our own feelings rather than holding them in someone’s face and saying “You did this.”
Mature, healthy couples will be able to sit with each other and calmly discuss any issues one or both of them may be feeling. The most effective way to do this is to work at organizing your thoughts first and then conveying them accurately. This will prevent outbursts or miscommunications that could result in things getting blown out of proportion.
This is especially important for men because if we take on a harsh tone, it will turn a potentially productive conversation into an argument where someone may get hurt.
Understand the importance of body language.
Many times the most important part of communication is understanding what isn’t being said. It comes down to reading someone’s body language, understanding their tone, and paying attention to the nuances of their actions. To notice the importance of body language, picture someone telling you they are not mad at all but they have their arms crossed and are leaning away from you. I would trust the gestures over the words…
Always stay open and relaxed when it comes to how you are physically presenting yourself to your partner. This will make them feel more at ease and willing to engage in an honest conversation without fear of you lashing out.
This should be obvious, but bringing a sarcastic tone into an otherwise genuine and important conversation can easily contaminate the entire interaction.
Never be insulting or judgmental.
Keep any communication on topic and never resort to insults or negative comments about someone’s attitude, demeanor, or aptitude at a certain task. Damaging someone’s self worth or pointing out flaws will move you further away from a solution or getting your point across, not closer to it.
Don’t bring up the past.
Relationships are about progression and forward motion, both as a couple and as individuals. If two people are earnestly doing their best to continue improving, then bringing up past mistakes or poor choices they have already apologized for and moved past will only make them feel as though you’ve not gotten over it and are still harboring negative feelings about the situation.
Needless to say, this will make them start wondering what else you may not be telling them.
Nobody likes threats, and the last person any of us should be worried about receiving one from is the man or woman we are in a relationship with. When we become faced with threats or ultimatums, our willingness to cooperate or communicate immediately becomes damaged and we begin to emotionally recoil. In some cases, people even become rebellious and will be tempted to do exactly what you are trying to keep them from doing.
Threats are never an acceptable form of communication and can easily lead to emotional or physical abuse. If the only way someone can get you to see their side of the situation is by threatening to break up with you, deprive you of something you love or become otherwise hostile, this is a sign of a toxic relationship and it may be time to re-evaluate whether or not this is someone you want to be with.
In order to maintain a healthy relationship, both teammates need to be willing and able to effectively communicate their feelings, whether they be positive or negative. Communication of love and appreciation are necessary in order to make someone understand how much you value them, and communication of what needs to be worked on is the only starting point to actually making it happen.
If we all followed these simple guidelines, I truly believe many relationships would be happier and healthier – and maybe even saved from falling apart.
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