Are you having trouble finding ways to effectively communicate in your relationships? Don't worry, you're not alone. Many couples, families, coworkers, and even friends struggle with finding the right way to express their feelings in a positive, productive manner.
Perfecting communication in relationships is tough, but if you're anything like us, you're not ready to give up just yet! So for a little help in the right direction, we sought advice from Dr. Darren Adamson, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and Assistant Dean of Northcentral University's School of Marriage and Family Sciences.
Dr. Adamson explains that "communication is like any skill, it takes practice." In order to start perfecting your communication skills, he suggests that "as objectively as possible, you analyze the causes of the poor communication – are they individual in the partners or interactional in the couple?" And he is sure to point out that "the need and the ability to create improvement usually lies in each individual AND in the relationship interaction."
Once you've successfully determined the underlying cause of your poor communication, Dr. Adamson suggests you keep these 10 tips in mind when taking the time to talk it out.
1. Make sure the conversation is appropriately arranged.
This means picking a proper setting, having a clear intent behind the conversation, and spelling out the desired outcome before you sit down to talk.
2. Prepare yourself with the right attitude.
Remember to point the finger in the right direction – at yourself, because you have the power to communicate well! In addition, make sure to come in to the conversation calm and open rather than upset and closed off.
3. Avoid unloading your list of stored up issues.
You already have a clear intent and desired outcome, so don't get steered off course by bringing up issues from the past that were already resolved.
4. Take your emotions out of it (at first).
This is a hard one to achieve. If you're having trouble, it may help you to keep your comments short and simple in the beginning of the conversation.
5. Mind your manners.
Remember that this is supposed to be a positive, respectful conversation. Try to use the tips your elders gave you years ago and mind those manners!
6. Stick to the facts.
Make sure your issues or complaints are described using data and not just emotions.
7. Remember the good stuff.
It's not all bad! Tell your partner something you appreciate about her or him – this keeps the conversation balanced. This also communicates that “it’s not just about an issue, it’s about our relationship”.
8. Own your emotions.
When talking about your emotions, try using "I" statements such as "I feel hurt, when ____ happens," and avoid the use of “you."
9. Ask questions instead of making statements.
Remember, your goal is to understand your partner, not to make sure that she or he understands you.
10. Celebrate communication success.
When it works, it works! Take the time to acknowledge and celebrate it – together!
In the end, remember that striving to perfect the art of effective communication in relationships is a process. You won't get it perfect the first time, and you may not even get close – just keep trying until you get there!
Have you ever used any of these tips before? What works for you and your partner?