How to Improve Communication in Relationships

improve communication relationships

Tips, Tricks, and Rules to Improve Relationship Communication

Listen generously. Reflect back what the person said accurately. Hear the person’s feeling. Tune in to what the other person wants and feel what’s underneath it. Listen with your third ear.

Speak unarguably. That means speaking in statements of fact that can’t be argued. For example, you may say to your partner: “I feel bad when you leave for work without saying good-bye.” You’re saying that you feed bad (a fact) when your partner does not say good-bye (also a fact), and that cannot be argued. This way of speaking places no blame and allows a conversation to happen without argument.

Focus on appreciation. It’s recommended a 5-1 ratio of appreciation to complaint. Focus on positive aspects of your partner and your relationship.

Turn your complaints into requests. For example, ask your partner: “If I make dinner, will you clean up?” Be committed to making clear agreements.

Shift from blame to wonder. Ask yourself how you might be contributing to a communication problem. Shift from your critical mind to your creative mind and, in turn, causes you to shift from being right to having a healthier relationship. Would you rather be right, or happy?

Ask for what you want. Most people don’t ask for what they want because they think they can’t get it. But the opposite is typically true. Most people are surprised to learn/to find out that they can get what they want simply by asking.

Show your partner what you want to receive. “In other words,”give your partner what you would like your partner to give you.”

Learn to negotiate. Relationships are give and take. For example — “Honey, I will cook dinner, if you will do the dishes afterward.”

Learn to modify what you want. “Ask yourself if what you want is really something you have to have.”

4 Rules for effective communication in conflict

  1. No Name Calling! While calling your partner a name may vent your frustration, it does nothing to communicate what you are actually thinking and feeling and immediately puts your partner on the defensive. This includes statements such as “You’re acting like a…”
  2. Don’t make “always” and “never” statements. These are ineffective because no one always or never does or says something. These statements immediately make your partner feel as they have to defend previous actions or statements and the argument usually shifts from the actual topic to whether or not someone always or never says or does something.
  3. Use “I” statements instead of “You” statements. In arguments, “you” statements tend to be attack oriented which shifts your partners likelihood to defending themselves instead of listening to what you are trying to say.
  4. Take a “time out” if you feel yourself getting too upset. Taking a time out from a heated argument can be an effective strategy to think about what you want to say before you say it. It is always easier to take some time and say something you really mean than blurt out something you will regret because you didn’t take the time to think about it. If you take a timeout in an argument, it is your responsibility to tell your partner when you will resume the discussion and it is also your responsibility to re-initiate the discussion. e.g. “I am going into the bedroom to cool off, I’ll come out in 15 minutes so we can talk this over.”
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