Undoubtedly, you’ve heard it said before: a strong relationship is built on good communication. And while many of us consider ourselves to be effective communicators, poor communication, unintended insults, and simple misunderstandings stand as the most common impediments in most relationships. These problems will never go away entirely. Realistically, how could they? But with a bit of effort and consideration, both you and your loved/liked/tolerated one may find yourself in a healthier, more stable, and more pleasant relationship.
Here are five ways to communicate better with the people you love.
Say it Once
Repetition takes a firm root in our culture. We practice to perfect. We listen to the same playlists over and over. Many of us go to the same places and do the same things day in and day out for a living. Yet there is one facet of life in which repetition has no place: conversation.
When speaking with your partner about something imperative, say it once. Emphasize the point and elaborate on why it is important, but make your point once. Too often, we intend to give our topics importance by repeating them sentence after sentence after sentence. And yet, it is this attempt to heighten communication and understanding that inevitably leads to disconnect and “tuning out.”
The obvious cause for this is the receiving party’s thought, “I get it.” Once the “I get it” point is hit, the listener may come to the conclusion that they have all the information required, thus each repetition becomes first tiring and, eventually, an annoyance, particularly if tensions are high.
However, the underlying root of this mentality is a far more basic human emotion: insult. To be given instruction or commentary time after time over a short span is, as we’ve said, an attempt to imply importance. But a person’s want to lend validity to what they have to say will often come across as coming down, causing the listener to subconsciously think, “so you think I didn’t understand the first time?”
This is not to say the topic should not be brought up again at another date, but a true reminder is found in a separate conversation entirely, not moments after the point is made.
Ask Yourself “Is it Worth Saying?”
Before diving into an argument or engaging in a serious conversation, ask yourself the short question, “Is it worth saying?” Many times we do ask ourselves this question, weighing the value of the impending conversation, but what I mean is to take that question one step further. “Is it worth saying,” should not only be an analysis of “do I want to deal with this right now,” but it should also incorporate the thought, “is this line of conversation constructive?” If the answer to this question is, “no,” this does not mean the topic needs to be dropped, but rather approached from a different angle with a different mentality.
If you manage to run through this line of reasoning in the midst of a fight, take a break, cool down, and return to the conversation with a cool head and a mindset of doing what it takes to make things better, not simply to get our way.
Though we go into conversations hoping to move our relationships forward by hearing our partners’ thoughts on a given matter, more often than not we know how they will respond long before the conversation actually takes place.
Should you plan to address an important topic, and you know that the response is not the one you are hoping for, think the conversation through. We map out our partner’s thoughts, their qualms, and their arguments and plan to respond or rebuke, but in doing so, we are not moving the conversation forward towards a solution, only prolonging the argument without a solution in sight. Instead, when considering how to respond, turn your thoughts away from, “how do I defend myself?” to “what can I do or say to help them see what I see.”
If this is done in a caring, genuine fashion, you will be amazed how quickly some of life’s toughest topics are tackled.
Pick the Appropriate Form of Communication
Whether it’s with our partner, friends, boss, or complete strangers, the form in which we communicate is nearly as important as what we hope to communicate. If we plan to break up, we do it in person, not over a text. If we want a job interview, we start with a phone call or an email, rather than simply showing up. Before engaging in a meaningful conversation, take a moment to consider what is the best form of communication for the topic at hand, not the easiest.
It’s a simple as that. Go into each conversation knowing what it is you want to say, say it, and be sure anything you add is what you truly mean to say. It’s easy to get wrapped up in the argument, saying things you don’t mean, fighting for the sake of fighting. Make a conscious effort to keep the person you want to be present in what you say.
What tips do you have on communicating better? Let’s get our communication on in the comments section.