Communication is the bedrock of any relationship.
Relationship experts always emphasise the importance of communicating effectively in a relationship because they know the danger otherwise.
Personally, I believe that one of the greatest reasons for issues in any relationship – romantic or platonic – is misunderstanding.
Many people quarrel because they do not understand each other and both of them are refusing to communicate effectively to understand each other.
So, how do you communicate effectively in a relationship?
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Be open and honest
Effective communication cannot be achieved if there is no transparency and honesty.
Some people are so scared of conflict that they do not address issues – I will admit, I had and sometimes, still have that issue.
I, however, made a promise to myself long ago that when I started a relationship, I will make sure I communicated how I felt, especially, if it was going to be an issue.
There are certain things I decide to let go because I consider it trivial and something I can overlook but if it is something that would affect the relationship, then I had to communicate.
Sometimes, we think our partner wants to hurt us or should know better but since they are not God, we have to let them know.
Be honest about what you feel before it piles up.
Listen without interrupting
We are usually in a hurry to talk because we want to either defend ourselves or because we think we deserve to talk.
Issues will not be addressed if there is no listening happening on both sides.
A particular couple I look up to said they have an item at home that they use when they are discussing issues. Whoever has the item, at a point, is allowed to talk and the other has to listen without interruption until the item exchange hand.
That way, everybody talks and is able to air their feelings completely.
I think this is a great idea, especially, if listening without interruption doesn’t come naturally to you.
Also, even if you are not interrupting, actually listen and don’t spend the time trying to think up a defence. It is difficult but doable.
One thing I try to do with people is address motive much more than action.
Personally, I think your motive for doing something is much more important than what you do, so I try to get the root of it.
But beyond getting to the root of it, do you understand? That is also a question to ask yourself.
Ask any question that you need to ask and make a conscious effort to understand.
Now, you might not agree. Agreement is not necessarily the same with understanding but you can understand without agreeing.
For instance, if my boyfriend does something or believes something based on how he was brought up that is different from what I believe based on how I was brought up, we can both understand that we were brought up differently on this issue even if we don’t agree on it.
As far as it is not hurting our relationship, then it is a non-issue.
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“I am sorry” … just three words but very powerful that does not come easy to many of us.
The reason we cannot apologise, especially, when we are at fault is because of pride and a prideful person cannot succeed in a relationship.
At the very least, you will not be able to make your partner happy.
Some people have gone further and can apologise even when they are right but you don’t even have to start there … if you are wrong, apologise.
It doesn’t matter how angry your partner made you, if you still want to be in that relationship, try to be respectful.
Express your anger and grievance without insulting the person. Sometimes, it is not what is being said but how it is said. Say it respectfully.
Address the issue and not the person
Always remember that the issue is the problem and not your partner.
Make sure you make your grievance about what is being done and not about your partner.
For instance, instead of saying, “you are dirty; I always tell you to pick after yourself but you pile dirt up for days”, you can say, “I would appreciate it if you picked up after yourself, piling up dirt is not healthy for both of us.”
Both sentences are addressing the same thing; one addressed the issue and the other, the person. You are likely to get a positive response if you make it about the issue and not your partner.
Take note of your body language
One of the best ways to communicate effectively in a relationship is to take note of your body language.
Don’t act like that is the last place you want to be even if you feel that way. Don’t stay on your phone when your partner is speaking to you.
Give them your rapt attention and let them know that what they are saying matters to you.
Don’t dredge up past issues
Deal with issues one at a time and don’t bring up past issues.
This is why it is important to address it as it comes, so you don’t pile it up and start dredging up past issues.
And if you have dealt with it, let it go; don’t bring it up again.
Take note of the time
There is a time for everything.
There is a right time and a wrong time to talk to your partner. Don’t try to talk when your partner is stressed and feel pained that they are not listening to you or reacting wrongly.
One of the ways to communicate effectively in a relationship is being sensitive to time.