I am sure you know communication is extremely important in any relationship, whether it is personal or business. Often a breakdown in communication can lead to an end of a relationship as I am sure most of us have experienced. Therefore, I have decided to share with you some tips and tricks that have helped my wife and I’s relationship, of 6 almost 7 years, to flourish.
1) Keep the conversation at an adult level
What I mean by this is that often one person may say something very childish, whether at the beginning of a conversation or late into it, which can lead to the other person responding with something childish back. This leads to the communication breaking down and often one side, if not both, is hurt by the childish remarks.
Of course, you can’t control the other person's remarks, but you can always control your own. If someone says something childish to you, stop for a second and really consider your words. Often, when we respond back like an adult the other person will come back up to your level.
2) Take 100% responsibility for your words and actions
Instead of arguing whose fault it is that communication broke down, or whatever the problem is, realize that you both must take 100% responsibility for your own actions. This is not a blame game, and there should be no “winner”. If one party in the communication feels defeated, then you both have failed. It is only when both parties have come to a common solution or agreed to respectively disagree that there is a “win”.
It can be as easy as telling your partner “I take 100% responsibility for my part of the broken communication”. Often hearing this can break the thinking that this is a war between the two of you, allowing there to be a productive and positive conversation.
3) Listen first
This is one my wife and I are still working on. As we get very excited and passionate, we start to think of what we are going to say while the other is talking, instead of listening to what they are saying. This has caused us to say things the other has already acknowledged and it has led to both of us not feeling heard. Remember you do not always have to start speaking right away, it is okay to take a moment to think about what you want to say.
Acknowledging their concerns before you start speaking can be a great starting point as it lets them know you were listening, and it will allow you some time to think. If you find yourself thinking too long and you are receiving a funny look from your partner, just explain to them that you are trying to find the right words to convey your message. Most times, the person will appreciate the extra thought that you put into the conversation as it shows you care about what is being said.
A simple activity you can try is to practice being both the Listener and Speaker. Have one person speak, and the other listen. Once the speaker is done, the listener can say what they heard. This practice can really help both people realize what they are actually saying versus what they intended to say and what is being heard.
4) Body Language & Tone of Voice
You may be saying one thing, but your body or tone of voice may be saying something else. For example, you may be listening to your partner, but you aren’t looking them in the eyes. Even though you are listening, they may not feel heard because for them that eye connection is extremely important. Something common that also comes to mind is the arms crossed in front of the body. This is a naturally deflective move that many people don’t realize they are taking to protect themselves from words or actions around them. It may seem harmless, but it puts the idea out there that you are feeling attacked, and it can change the whole vibe of the conversation.
5) Remember who it is you are speaking too
Often those closest to us are the ones that take the brunt of our frustration, anger, happiness, and any other feelings we have, just because they’re the ones that are around in the moment. The party on the other side is there to speak to you and support you, not fight you. Just like the other tips, taking a moment to consider your words before you speak can make all the difference in your communication and therefore your relationship.
6) Think before you speak
It seems like a no-brainer, but as I have alluded to in my other tips it is important. Many childish remarks, fights, arguments, and communication breakdowns are due to speaking too quickly based on an initial emotion or thought that runs through our minds. After you are done listening to your partner, consider what they have said and then formulate a response.
If you are not sure how to respond or need to clarify before saying something just say something simple like, “I want to make sure I am understanding this right…”. It is likely if you are feeling frustrated with the communication so is your partner. Share with them what you have learned and explain to them that you want to try something new so that you can repair your communication and grow together. I am forever thankful that I have done this with my wife. Do we still have some communication problems? Sure, but now we have tools to address them and it’s much easier as we are both on the same page.
All of these tips have helped me become a better communicator and have allowed me to improve my relationships in countless ways. If you have any communication tips that I did not mention that have been helpful in your life, I would love to hear them. If something I mentioned doesn’t quite make sense feel free to reach out to me and I can explain it in a different way for you.
I am always here for you; all you need to do is reach out.