Many of us confuse communication with having a conversation. Sure, talking to someone is basic communication, but just because you’re talking doesn’t mean you express your feelings nor does it mean that the other person truly understands what you say. Learning how to communicate in a relationship is what makes it work or where it all falls apart.
So, yes, communication is key, but what we really mean is effective communication is key.
How to communicate in a relationship
All of us who’ve experienced problems in our relationships *not just romantic* had issues with communication. Sometimes, we’re too scared to tell people how we feel or we don’t want to cause an issue, so we brush it to the side. We think by ignoring the problem it will just go away. In most cases it only gets worse, usually resulting with someone blowing up in an angry rage.
You never want to let a situation get to that point, especially when you could have easily solved it just by expressing your feelings. Shitty communication skills not only affect your intimate relationships but also your surrounding relationships with friends and co-workers. If you want to know how to communicate in a relationship the right way, keep these things in mind.
#1 Stop talking and listen. We love to talk, almost to the point where we really don’t care if someone listens or not. But if you want to improve your communication, you must get out of your head and actively listen to your partner. Expressing your feelings is one thing, but if you don’t listen to their needs, you will not be able to reciprocate. [Read: Do you love talking and hate listening?]
#2 You’re going to have to open up. This is the hard part for many of us. No one wants to become vulnerable, even though it’s perfectly healthy. Many of us think we’re “weak” for opening up to someone else and becoming vulnerable. How else will you express your feelings if you’re not honest with your partner? [Read: Steps to become more emotionally available for lasting love]
#3 Don’t assume anything. Don’t assume that your partner feels this or thinks that. If you start assuming how they feel, you actually prevent proper communication from occurring. You know the saying, “When you assume, you make an ass out of you and me.” A truer phrase has never been spoken. Throw your assumptions out the window because they’re not going to help you one bit.
#4 When talking, use “I.” This is really the basics of effective communication. When you speak about your feelings, always use “I” statements. Don’t say “you.” This is accusatory and easily takes the discussion down a different, unpleasant road. So, for example, don’t say, “You never wash the dishes,” instead, say, “I feel annoyed when you don’t wash the dishes after saying you will.”
#5 You say a lot through body language. We communicate mostly through body language, shockingly. So, when you sit down to talk about your feelings, a frown on your face with your arms crossed isn’t giving off great vibes. Try to maintain an open and neutral position, one that doesn’t give off defensive or aggressive energy. [Read: 23 dos and don’ts that make all the difference in a relationship argument]
#6 Walk the talk. Everyone says they’re going to change and be a better person. Hell, even I’ve said it 100 times. But what really makes the difference is when you actually do it. If you don’t follow through with your words, how can you improve your communication skills with your partner? If you say you’re going to work on your anger, actually take the steps necessary to do so.
#7 It’s a two-way street. The only way to improve your communication is if both people are fully invested in it. If your partner is already working on their communication skills, you need to step up and meet them halfway. This won’t work if only one person does all the work.
#8 No texting. If you’re upset about something, sure, you can text them. However, it’s very easy to miscommunicate your feelings via text. The other person can’t hear your tone of voice or see your facial expression behind a text message. This is why you need to save these conversations for in-person talks, especially when you’re trying to understand how to communicate in a relationship in the best way possible. Yes, I know it’s easier to sit behind your phone, but it causes more bad than good.
#9 You don’t have to solve a problem right away. We usually feel that when we have a disagreement with someone, it needs to be solved right away. Of course, we want the problem solved now. It saves us hours of awkward encounters in the kitchen.
But not all arguments or disagreements need to be solved right away. Sometimes, if it was really heated, you’re better off sleeping on it and then discussing it the next day. That way, you both had space and can now effectively communicate. [Read: 15 ways to resolve conflict without the drama]
#10 Keep the emotions to a minimum. Okay, you do need to express your emotions, however, you want to express them with minimal emotion. If you cry or yell, you’re going to have a harder time truly communicating how you feel. Also, your partner will not be actively listening if you’re sobbing in front of them. Staying as rational as possible gives you the best outcome.
#11 Communicating isn’t a competition. The point of communicating isn’t about proving that you’re right and they’re wrong. It’s based on empathy and compromising. If you go into a discussion solely focusing on winning the debate. Well, you’re not going to get far. This isn’t a 100-meter dash. [Read: How to be a better listener in your relationship]
#12 Timing. If you want to sit and talk with your partner about an issue that really bothers you, pick the proper time and place. Don’t do it an hour before their final university exam or the day after their grandfather died. Choose a quiet place, preferably not in public, and choose a moment where you both are emotionally neutral.
#13 Try to keep it relaxed. Sometimes, communicating our emotions can be quite stressful and emotional. There’s nothing wrong with throwing in some humor to help you relax and lighten the atmosphere. However, don’t make the conversation turn into a comedy hour. It distracts from the main objective. [Read: The guide to find your zone of calm perfection]
#14 Get a professional involved. If you experience problems applying these tips to your relationship, then consider seeking professional advice. Going to a therapist is a great option as they help provide you with the tools needed to start a conversation with your partner. Yes, you can read this feature and understand it, but putting it into practice can be a challenge.
[Read: The 10 telling signs you need relationship counseling]
Now that you know the 14 ways for how to communicate in a relationship, the only thing I can tell you is that you better get on it. Your communication skills aren’t going to get better on their own, so better get to work!
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