Any Relationship Can Use a Tune-Up
Do you ever feel like you are never listened to? Or perhaps no one responds to you when you are talking. This can be extremely frustrating and lead to fights and an extremely unsatisfying relationship. How can you improve your connections with your significant other that will pay off in dividend? Here are some communication “tune-up” tips that work:
First, in order to communicate effectively, you have to have the other person’s attention. The best way to do that is to look your partner in the eye. When you have connected eye contact, you are better able to read body language, such as nodding or facial expressions to confirm you are both present.
Second, another key aspect of this process is active empathetic listening. This process shows that you understand what is going on inside of the mind of the speaker as if you were that person. It is not enough to just say that you heard your spouse’s words; you need to show that you know how the other person feels.
How do you show that? By reflecting back what was said to you both verbally and nonverbally. For example, a wife comes through the door after work and says that the bus was late; she doesn’t have enough time to cook dinner and go workout; and by the way, the checking account is over drawn. Doing active listening, the husband, instead of reacting to the checking account balance or the no dinner, gently says, “It sounds like a lot of things went wrong today. I would be very frustrated too”. This clearly demonstrates that the wife’s complaints were actually heard. Once this type of response has been made, a channel is there to discuss her feelings and find a resolution to the evening plans without bickering and fighting.
The third tip is to leave blaming and judgments out of your conversations. The best way to do this is to use “I” statements instead of “You” statements. For example, in the above illustration, the husband could have said to the wife, “You always run late, dinner is never ready on time and furthermore, you are financially incompetent!” Instead he said, “I would feel frustrated too”. Thus, the wife would not feel blamed, and be less likely to react defensively. Furthermore, using this language technique allows partners to feel empathy for each and look for solutions in lieu of retribution.
The fourth recommendation is to directly ask for how you want the other person to respond. For example, if you have had a frustrating day like the woman in the above story, tell your partner that you want to vent and you just want him to LISTEN. By doing this, you are taking care of your feelings and needs and allowing the other person to be supportive by just letting you blow off steam.
Therefore, as a suggestion, if your goal is to get your husband to listen, simply say, “I only want you to listen, I do not want you to fix anything, I just want you to hear what I have to say.”
The fifth piece of advice is to appreciate the differences in the way you communicate. Your partner may prefer to write about her feelings instead of vocalizing them. In contrast, the other partner may chose to go for a run or walk after an argument to clear his head and then reconvene to work on solutions. These differences should be cherished because when you appreciate the unique communication style of the other person; you will get along better and be able to nurture a healthy relationship.
Here at Peace Talks, we are all about communication… Educating parties about the skills they can use to reconnect or to make their transition to a new type of family entity a smooth one. By educating excellent relationship skills, we help partners and families stay connected for life!