When life's in full swing, it's easy to neglect communicating to your partner what's important in your relationship. And you're communicating well when your partner actually hears the message you mean for him or her to hear. This doesn't always happen, which can be a source of frustration for both of you.
Maybe you and/or your partner aren't conveying your feelings well or you avoid expressing yourself because it typically turns into a fight. Or it just seems easier to deal with things yourself than to articulate what's going on to your partner. Whatever the reason your communication is a little off, together you can certainly make the decision to press the "reset" button to reestablish good communication with your partner, if you did it better at one point. If you feel you never communicated well, it's never too late to start! Try some of these suggestions in your relationship to get your point across much better:
Strike when the iron is cold. Many couples wait until they're angry to try to solve an issue in their relationship. Can you think of a time in your life when you solved a problem in the middle of an argument? Most people would answer "no." Wait until emotions are less heated and you're able to have a calm and clear conversation to discuss and resolve an important issue.
Stop complaining. When you have a person at home who listens to you, you might even do more moaning and groaning than you realize. Sometimes it's easy to take a person in your life for granted who's available to listen to all your daily gripes. Try to recognize how much time is spent complaining. Every time you hear yourself complaining, mention two things about the day that went your way or that you're happy about.
Change your attitude. Identify any negative attitudes about communication that need some work. Once you're aware of some of these negative beliefs (e.g., "Every conversation will end in a fight," or "There's no point of talking about it, nothing can change") share them with your partner. Think of some new attitudes to replace these old ones. For example, if your attitude is "It's not worth bringing up," try to replace this with something different, like "Even if nothing changes, getting something bothersome off my chest can be helpful."
Stay positive if at all possible. Everybody likes a little positive reinforcement. Don't only react to the bad stuff. Thank your partner when he or she takes time to listen to what you're expressing or point it out when you feel like the two of you have communicated successfully.
Listen up! Listening, of course, is a lot more than just hearing words. Sometimes when trying to communicate with your partner, the message can get "lost in translation." For example, if your partner asks you to put your cell phone away at the dinner table, do you put it away and pull it out a few minutes later, or are you able to hear what your partner is truly communicating? The last time you had a real problem communicating could you paraphrase what your partner was expressing? If not, this may be a reason you're not communicating as well as you'd like. Make it a habit to paraphrase what your partner is communicating before you respond. For example, start by saying something like, "It sounds to me like you don't want me to be distracted by other tasks I am working on with my cell phone while we are spending time together." This way, you can get a confirmation that you fully understand the issue at hand.
Try one or more of these suggestions or others in my book Stage Climbing: The Shortest Path to Your Highest Potential and see if you feel your relationship is on more solid ground. Better communication can not only make you feel closer, and more supported, but can make you feel more satisfied in your relationship then you may have ever imagined!
For more by Michael S. Broder, Ph.D., click here.
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