The Keys to Communication in Relationships
It is common knowledge that communication is one of the keys to a strong and enduring relationship. But what does it really mean to communicate well? Here are some critical steps that will help you and your partner build a stronger, deeper connection through fully engaged and meaningful communication.
Engaged listening Make the other person know that they are truly understood. You have to put yourself aside. It’s not about you, it’s about the other person. Go to the other person’s world. Try to see things from the other person’s perspective. Try to see how their emotional houses are set up, rather than try to change them. When we are truly engaged it is like visiting another persons house without judging the condition of the interior.
Setting aside judgment. In order to communicate effectively with someone, you don’t have to like them or even agree with their ideas, or opinions. However, you do need to set aside your judgment and withhold blame and criticism in order to fully understand a person. The most difficult communication, when successfully executed, can lead to the most unlikely and profound connection with someone.
Positioning yourself to focus fully on the other person. Physically postion yourself in a way that makes you most in tune with the other person’s feelings. Face to face talking is the best posture. Tone of voice conveys emotion, so if you’re thinking about other things, checking text messages or doodling, you will miss the nonverbal cues and the emotional content behind the words being spoken. And if the person talking is similarly distracted, you’ll be able to quickly pick up on it. If you find it hard to concentrate on some speakers, try repeating their words over in your head—it’ll reinforce their message and help you stay focused.
Providing feedback. If there seems to be a disconnect, reflect what has been said by paraphrasing. “What I’m hearing is,” or “Sounds like you are saying,” are great ways to reflect back. Don’t simply repeat what the speaker has said verbatim, though—you’ll sound insincere or unintelligent. Instead, express what the speaker’s words mean to you. Ask questions to clarify certain points: “What do you mean when you say…” or “Is this what you mean?”
Paying attention to nonverbal communication: When we communicate things that we really care about, we often do so mainly using nonverbal signals. Body language can include facial expressions, body movement and gestures, eye contact, posture, tone of voice, and even your muscle tension and breathing. The way you look, listen, move, and react to another person tells them more about how you’re feeling than words alone ever can. Developing the ability to understand and implement nonverbal cues can help you connect more deeply. You practice using open body language such as arms uncrossed, taking an open stance or sitting on the edge of your seat, and maintaining eye contact with the other person as often as possible.
Keeping stress in check: To communicate effectively, you need to be aware of and in control of your emotions. And that means learning how to recognize and manage stress. Are your fists clenched? Is your breath short? When you’re stressed, you’re more likely to misread other people and send confusing or inaccurate signals.
Be willing to compromise. Sometimes you’ll be able to find a happy middle ground that reduces the stress levels for everyone concerned. If you realize that the other person cares much more about something than you do, compromise may be easier for you and a good investment in the future of the relationship.
Agreeing to disagree, if necessary, and take time away from the situation so everyone can calm down. Take a quick break and move away from the situation. Go for a stroll outside if possible, or spend a few minutes meditating. Physical movement or finding a quiet place to regain your balance can quickly reduce stress.
Trusting your own opinions. Assert yourself and be clear about what you need. Be respectful but firm Focus on the positive for both people when at all possible.
At all times stay open and be aware of what you want to Communicate. Communicate as Clearly and Consisely as Possible. The results of enhanced communication will enrich and improve any partnership that matters.