All relationships have issues. When two people who have different ways of looking at a situation get together, it is important to be able to talk things out to get a better understanding of one another. Good communication is essential to any healthy relationship and an important step in keeping conflict from overwhelming the relationship. Consider the following when having that meaningful conversation:
Make sure it is a good time to talk
When you are feeling stressed or tired, you will not be at your best. find a time when you both can talk and listen without distractions.
Avoid judging, blaming and raising your voice.
It is important to deliver your message in as neutral a way as possible without getting accusatory or overly critical. You want to do your best to avoid putting your partner on the defensive so that real talking and listening can take place.
Use “I” language.
Again, using “you” can sound like an accusation, and put your partner on the defensive. “I” is the language of ownership as in “I think…” or “I feel…” or “I would like…”An example might be “I would like it if we could have a date night this week,” instead of “You never take me anywhere anymore.”
Listen with Empathy
This means to open your heart and hear from a place of being compassionate instead of inner-directed. It means “walking a mile” in your partner’s shoes. It means being able to see the issue from your partner’s point of view instead of just wanting them to get through what they are saying so you can jump in. Listening to really hear what they are trying to communicate to you.
Be honest and kind
When you share, do so with the goal of being completely honest. Healthy relationships are built on honesty and integrity. Have the intention of sharing with honest thoughts and emotions as a way of respecting your partner and creating and maintaining trust.
Kindness is also very important. Honesty without kindness can lead to fear, intimidation and mistrust.
Reflect back what you have heard
A very basic communication skill is Reflective Listening. This means listening carefully and then telling your partner what you have heard and asking “What I heard you say is this _____. Did I get that right?” Using this kind of skill will slow down the conversation and it will show your partner that you were truly hearing what they had to say.
When things get heated, take a Time Out
If the conversation starts going south, and things get tense, it is important to take a break and put some distance between the two of you. This can mean going into another room, or taking a walk, or finding another way to let of steam that doesn’t involve yelling at the kids or anyone else for that matter.
It is valuable to have an agreement to do this between the two of you so that when one person asks for a time out, the other person doesn’t follow them around the house. A time out gives each partner an opportunity to cool off and helps avoid the escalation of anger.
If you follow these suggestions for more effective communication, you can keep things on an even keel and strengthen your relationship. Isn’t that what every couple wants?