Ways to improve communication in a relationship
If the idea of improving your communication skills seems scary, don’t worry. Communication is a skill that requires constant practice, and there will always be room for improvement. Luckily there are a few simple steps you can take to communicate better in a relationship.
Here are five small tips you can put into practice to become a more effective communicator.
Make time to talk
This seems so simple, but many couples don’t practice the art of daily conversation. It doesn’t mean sitting down and having a long, intense daily discussion about where your relationship is going, either.
I simply believe that by creating a bit of time and space to talk and listen to each other, to share your hopes and feelings about what’s going on for you both — or even to talk about the latest TV show you’re watching — that your connection will deepen and you’ll be better placed to deal with whatever life throws at you.
Conversations are a two-way street, so to build a feeling of connection between you it’s important that each of you feels heard. Active listening is key to healthy communication.
To do that, you both need to concentrate on the words that are spoken and how they are spoken. Avoid interruptions, talking over the other person, or getting defensive. You can also ask open-ended questions to demonstrate that you’re listening and want to learn more.
If you struggle with this, take it in turns — set a timer, and each take it in turns to speak and listen.
Use “I feel” statements
Good communication is about owning your stuff. “I feel” statements encourage you to take responsibility for your feelings and avoid accusations and blame that can cause an argument to erupt.
So instead of saying “You always…”, or “why didn’t you…?” start with “I feel”. In doing so you’ll come at a conversation from a place of vulnerability and you’ll help your partner understand where you’re coming from, which fosters more honest conversations and greater connection among couples.
Focus on one point
Expressing a message enough that it can be heard and understood is a crucial first step in avoiding miscommunication in relationships. This is especially relevant during heated discussions.
Don’t bring up a whole laundry list of irritations that will only make your partner switch off. Instead, focus on one point that you want to get across, and what, specifically, you might need from your partner at this moment.
Hug it out
Research proves the importance of physical intimacy in the communication process. Physical closeness expresses that you’re there for each other, even during times of conflict.
A carefully-timed hug during or at the end of an argument can help to rebuild trust, reduce stress, dissolve anger, and together move on more positively.