In this article, we will discuss what healthy communication is, its importance, and how we can achieve improved communication in relationships.
Healthy communication is crucial for sustaining long-term relationships and increased relationship satisfaction for couples. By having better communication, you can explain to someone else what you are experiencing, what your needs are, and also allows you to understand your partner’s feelings, and needs as well.
So if you are feeling a little lost on what to communicate in a relationship, or how to communicate better to your partner, here are some ways that you could try:
- Recognize your communication styles
- Truly connect with your partner
- Learn about non-verbal cues
- Be open and honest
- Make time for each other
Are you ready to transform your relationship? Let us now discuss these ways in detail.
1. RECOGNIZE YOUR COMMUNICATION STYLES
Princeton University discussed four communication styles: passive, aggressive, passive-aggressive, and assertive.
A. Passive Communication - happens when one is not expressing feelings or needs; ignoring personal rights and allowing others to do so. It is also characterized by relying on others for decision making in order to avoid tension or conflict, and may include statements like “I’m okay with whatever you want to do”
B. Aggressive Communication - this happens when one is expressing feelings, needs, and ideas at the expense of others; ignoring others’ rights in order to support his/her own; people with this communication style also tend to be defensive or hostile when confronted by others, and often have statements like “this is what we’re doing,” or “get over it”.
C. Passive-Aggressive Communication - this style is characterized by appearing passive on the surface, but subtly acting out anger; people with this style exert control over others by using sarcasm and indirect communication, or avoiding the conversation; they also have passive statements and body language followed by giving the "silent treatment", spreading rumors, and sabotaging another person’s efforts.
D. Assertive Communication - a type of direct, honest communication of thoughts and feelings; respecting the feelings, ideas, and needs of others while also asserting your own and saying statements like “I feel...when you…and I need for you to do…”
It may take time to identify your communication styles and preferences. By knowing and respecting each other’s preferences, it is one way to communicate better with your partner. Remember to explore you and your partner’s wants, needs and areas where you both need improvement. However, being direct is always better than being passive aggressive.
2. TRULY CONNECT WITH YOUR PARTNER
Relationships are about both people, and each should have an equal say about things. You both need to feel heard and be able to share your thoughts. When you truly connect with your partner, you listen instead of just responding.
Listening is very important to make your partner feel heard, appreciated, or understood and can also encourage your partner to talk openly and honestly.
Equally important to listening is asking the right questions to determine if your partner’s needs are met in the relationship or not. By keeping an open and calm mind, you will not only know how to better communicate, but will also enable you to connect with your partner on a deeper level.
3. LEARN ABOUT NON-VERBAL CUES
Your nonverbal cues or “body language” speak the loudest and are powerful communication tools. Body language is the use of physical behavior, expressions, and mannerisms to communicate nonverbally, often done instinctively rather than consciously.
The gestures you make, your posture, your tone of voice send strong messages to your partner even if you say the opposite of what you unconsciously show. They can put your partner at ease, build confidence, and feel open towards you, or they can offend, confuse, and undermine what you’re trying to say
If you want to improve your communication with your partner, it's important to become more sensitive not only to his/her body language and nonverbal cues, but also to your own.
4. BE OPEN AND HONEST
This is perhaps one of the most effective ways to improve your communication with your partner. Being open means saying what you truly feel, and meaning what you say.
If you say that you are fine, and expect your partner to second-guess if you are really fine, then you may be doing more harm than good because no matter how well you know and love each other, your partner cannot read your mind and vice-versa.
Being open and honest helps to avoid misunderstandings that may cause hurt, anger, resentment or confusion. Be clear with what you want to communicate and take responsibility for your feelings, and try to understand your partner’s point of view.
5. MAKE TIME FOR EACH OTHER
Taking time to truly talk with your partner about almost anything can help improve communication in relationships and avoid conflicts in the future.
Like any skill, communication requires practice. Talk about the things that matter in your relationship and the things that ultimately do not matter. These are important because this way, you will know what actually matters to you and your partner and make a compromise about these things, like who throws out the garbage, or who shall cook breakfast - just some of the most trivial matters that make up misunderstanding or confusion.
However, it is not who takes out the garbage nor who shall cook breakfast that most people in a relationship are really fighting about, but rather it was about not feeling heard or appreciated. This can be addressed by making time for each other, like setting aside an hour to speak in a judgment-free space every week, allowing the two of you to feel heard and respected. This way, you can talk about deeper things that you don’t get to communicate on normal days when you are both busy with work.
Indeed, communication is a skill, as such, there’s always room for improvement. By being as honest, direct, kind, thoughtful, and sensitive to your partner’s needs, you are working to put up a bigger effort to improve and maintain a healthy communication and stay on the same page. We hope that these ways would help you communicate effectively with your partner, but also have a better and healthier relationship.