Have you been struggling to effectively communicate with your partner or family member? Communication in relationships is always a learning process. Yet, there are ways that you can improve your communication skills and better express yourself to those whom you care about.
Communication in Relationships Tip #1: Don’t be Distracted
If you are trying to communicate with your partner, then don’t be distracted by outside interference. This means you might:
- Turn off the television. Even better, have the discussion in a room without a TV or other screen.
- Turn off your cell phone. Don’t let your device draw you away when you’re trying to communicate with your partner.
- Refrain from doing another task while you are having a conversation (such as washing the dishes).
- Set a time and place where you know that you won’t be distracted.
- Try to make this a daily event when you and your partner can spend an hour or so together without interference.
What you have to say is important, so make sure that you are deliberate in setting a time and place that allows you to express yourself.
Communication in Relationships Tip #2: Be a Good Listener
It may sound counterintuitive, but one of the best ways that you can become a better communicator is to be a better listener. When you listen effectively, you send the message that you care about what your partner says. If you feel the urge to respond immediately…don’t. Take a moment to absorb what is being said. Being reactive says that you aren’t really listening, and are more interested in arguing. The trick of being a good listener is to listen for understanding rather than listening to prepare your response.
Communication in Relationships Tip #3: Watch for What You Don’t Say
Our nonverbal communication says much more about what we think or feel than we realize. You may say that you are interested and listening to your partner. But if you fail to make eye contact, roll your eyes, or even turn away, your actions reveal a lot more about your attitude. Be conscious of your body movements so you can stay “on message” when talking with your partner.
Communication in Relationships Tip #4: Separate the Person from the Action
It may be that when communicating with your partner or family you will feel angry. Perhaps they did something that brings up difficult emotions for you. All you want to do is tell them how much they’ve hurt you and that it’s their fault. What if you could separate the person from their actions? Can you be upset with your loved one, but refrain from writing them off ? Being able to separate a person from their actions helps you see circumstances from a more neutral perspective. This tempers any overreaction that might makes things worse. Begin with “I feel” statements rather than “you” statements. This is known as “gentle start-up” and makes it easier for the listener to hear the concerns and not get defensive.
Having a sense of humor can go a long way towards slowing down negative reactions to situations. Yelling or blaming others isn’t going to solve anything. Laughter is a better way to cope, and easily puts you in a better frame of mind for a productive conversation.
Consulting with a Therapist for Communication Skills
If you still find yourself struggling with communication in relationships, consult with a therapist. A therapist trained in relationship counseling for men can teach you tools to improve your communication skills, provide perspective, and understanding.
Knowing how to effectively communicate is a skill that always requires practice. However, it is possible to learn and improve those skills. By interacting with less distraction, knowing how to listen, having a sense of humor, becoming more aware of nonverbal communication, and responding rather than reacting, you take some simple, effective steps toward better communication in relationships. For additional tips on ways to more effectively communicate, visit Philip’s Relationship Counseling for Men page or call Philip @ 813-651-1221.