8 Tips for Improving Communication in Your Relationship
Carlos Durana Ph.D., M.Ac. offers counseling and therapy in Reston, Virginia, Washington, DC, and Bethesda, Maryland.
Anyone who has been in a relationship knows that “communication is key”. Even if you’ve not been in a committed relationship, or seen a therapist Bethesda MD, you’ve probably heard that phrase at least once before in your life. Just because we know that communication is key, it doesn’t mean that we necessarily always know how to communicate or where to find the key to communication when it feels as though it has been lost.
Everyone in a relationship has struggled with communication at one point or another, and has had to learn how to navigate the challenge of learning how to communicate with one another again. Effective, open communication isn’t limited to just romantic relationships, it also applies to friendships, family relationships, and healthy work relationships. Each of these various relationships are in our lives to teach us how to be better communicators. This is essential for not only being able to effectively express ourselves, but to also learn how to meet the needs of those around us, while ensuring that our needs are being met as well.
So, how do we improve our communication within our various relationships with others? Here are 8 tips to help you work on effectively communicating with those around you.
- People can’t read your mind. While often times we forget this, and unless your partner is a psychic, people aren’t going to be able to read your mind. While we often think that we are being obvious in expressing our thoughts and feelings, without clearly saying what you really think and feel, your partner will be left clueless as to what you are saying. Stop thinking about how upset you are, and use your words to communicate your feelings so there is no room for misinterpretation.
- Talk it out, face to face. While it might be tempting to have those big discussions that you are afraid to have over text, they should always be done in person—face to face. If you attempt to have those big conversations over text, there is guaranteed to be miscommunication and misinterpretation. Texting doesn’t allow for you to accurately convey your tone of voice, or allow for your partner to read your body language. As tempting as it might be to have those conversations through text, so you can get it over with, don’t! Wait until you can talk face to face and have a healthy conversation.
- Be honest about your feelings. You can’t be in a healthy relationship if you feel like you are walking around on eggshells about expressing your true feelings. It isn’t always easy to express how you truly feel about different issues, but it is important to be honest and let your partner know what you are feeling and what your needs are. Honest is the best policy, this applies to expressing your feelings too!
- Practice active listening. You can listen to what your partner is saying, or you can actively listen to what they are saying. Active listening is the practice of not only letting your partner know that you are 100% listening to what they are saying but that you are hearing what they are saying too. This type of listening includes making eye contact with your partner, repeating back what you heard them say, and giving them your full attention.
- Implement the “sandwich method” in your communication. When practicing effective communication, the sandwich method should be your best friend. The sandwich method is ideal for when you need to tell your partner something that might be difficult for them to hear, so you sandwich it between two positive statements.
- Practice using “I” statements. Couples who have attended couples therapy with a therapist Bethesda MD, will have learned how to use “I” statements in their communication. “I” statements allow for you to talk to your partner about your feelings without them feeling like you are attacking them with “you” statements. “I” statements sound less accusatory, and allow for both partners to accurately convey their feelings without having to worry about their partner putting up their guard.
- Pay attention to body language. When communicating, you are saying more than just what your words are saying, your body language is saying something as well. It could be as simple as an eye roll or crossing your arms that convey to your partner that you have checked out of the conversation. Make sure that your body language matches what you are saying with your words.
- Communicate through your actions. No matter what you say, or how much you say, it can be meaningless if your actions contradict what you are saying. Remember, actions speak louder than words, so be mindful that you are not only communicating how you feel through your words but through your actions as well. Don’t just tell your partner that you love them, show them all well!