In today’s digitally obsessed world, the long-lost art of conversation has been replaced by emoji, text speak, and passive aggressive posts on popular social media sites. However, communicating in the cryptic sign language of the internet isn’t the best way to foster a healthy relationship. Consider these three valuable pieces of relationship advice that will help you communicate more effectively with your partner.
1. Listen more than you speak
It’s easy to assume the best way to communicate is to speak often, but some conversations may yield better results through listening. Human beings naturally want to fill the space and silence in a conversation, but the words that fill the void don’t always enhance communication.
If your partner pauses during an intense conversation to gather his thoughts, that’s not always the best point to interject. An interruption could prevent true feelings from being expressed. Everyone isn’t a natural listener, so this technique often requires practice. However, meaningful listening and true comprehension may reveal amazing things about your partner.
2. Maintain honesty and openness
The white lie you told about putting together a surprise birthday party for your significant other isn’t going to break the relationship. However, regularly lying about important subjects may cause problems. Keeping feelings secret may lead to misunderstandings that could be avoided with simple communication.
Opening up with a partner might be one of the most difficult things you ever do in a relationship. This is particularly true if there are intimacy issues. How often have you said, “fine” when asked, “is everything all right?” You might feel more comfortable hiding your feelings, but you may confuse your partner. Always try to practice open and honest communication.
3. Stay focused on important topics
A conversation on what color to paint the living room is a great time to practice communication skills, but it’s easy to veer off course in casual conversations and talk about all sorts of tangential topics. A chat about whether it’s time to replace the washer and dryer could slowly morph into a conversation about installing shelves in the laundry room.
Switching topics is often a natural part of casual conversation; however, serious conversations about major life events or decisions require focus, particularly if the discussion is an argument that causes tension and stress in the relationship. It’s important to “finish” a discussion if you can to improve the likelihood of reaching an agreement in an argument.
Never assume that a simple conversation equals true communication. A short exchange about what to eat that night for dinner or what movie looks good at the multiplex won’t provide the emotional value of a thoughtful exchange. Make time for honest, open conversation to strengthen and fortify your relationship.
A helpful book on improving the way you interact with the person you love is called: What is the tone of your communication by Olah. It is filled with practical advice that you can use in every day situations.
Many of our clients have found that by working with a skilled therapist, they are able to enhance the quality of communication in their relationships and by extension, increase satisfaction.
To learn more about how counseling may help you, call us at 773-598-7797 or send us a confidential note through our online contact form.