When couples are at the height of an argument it can be difficult to ground themselves. Often, emotions are high while the willingness to listen is low. Sometimes, it is due to the topic. And at other times, it is the tit-for-tat communicative styles of each partner. Effective communication requires both talking and listening. If the goals are to have a conversation, and to understand the thoughts and feelings of one’s partner, here are a few tips to improve communication so that both sides are able to express themselves in a manner that demonstrates mutual respect.
Know when you are getting angry
Communication can come to a standstill before it truly begins if emotions get the best of partners. At times, when feelings are on high, it is important to pay attention to two things. One, how the body physically reacts to anger. And two, the types of thoughts whirling around. If an argument gets to the point of possibly causing more bad then good, it may be necessary to step away from the conversation and table it for another time. The intent behind tabling the conversation is not to stop communication. It is to prevent negative communication from taking over.
Take time to identify your personal communication style.
Opposites sometimes attract. This could be due to differences in their environment, upbringing or prior relationship experiences. Passive, aggressive, or passive-aggressive styles tend to hinder communication. While assertiveness opens it up. When in the midst of an argument or disagreement:
· Do you, or your partner, hold in feelings to the point of exploding?
· Is the intent to humiliate or tear down your partner?
· Is sarcasm a tool for downplaying actions or behaviors?
If the answer is yes to some, or all, of these questions, it may be worthwhile to consider new methods for communication.
Google Image: Improving communication skills
Use “I statements”
“I statements” encourages partners to seek clarity and to listen. Even more than that, they help people express their individual feelings without placing blame on their partners. When using “I statements” be sure to highlight the specific issue, the feelings behind it, the behavior that needs to be replaced and how such changes will benefit the relationship.
Ask for clarity
A high school teacher of mine used to say, “There are no dumb questions. Only dumb people that choose not to ask them.” Throughout a discussion, if something does not make sense, ask for clarity; be it in the form of a question or example. It is unrealistic to think positive changes will come about in a relationship when there is a lack of understanding and even worst an unwillingness to understand.
Take ownership of your actions and/ or behaviors
It can be difficult to admit a wrongdoing, but it is an important piece to driving communication. Ownership allows people to acknowledge that their actions affect others; and it moves a person from solely considering his/ her feelings to thinking about the feelings of others.
Keep your partner’s feelings in mind
Yes, in the heat of the moment it can be very difficult to care about someone else’s feelings. Nevertheless, in order for communication to work, one partner’s feelings cannot be the primary concern. Both partners have valid thoughts, feelings and opinions about the direction of their relationship. Therefore, thoughtful consideration of all feelings is necessary if the lines of communication are to remain open.
Remember, adopting new approaches to communication takes time. The goal is not perfection it is progress. Keeping these tips in mind, and implementing them, is just one path to improvement.