This is a guest post by Dr. Syras Derksen, a psychologist in private practice in Winnipeg.
Successful communication in couples is key, and is a solid basis in a stable relationship. However, effective communication can also be hard to achieve – especially when we are emotionally disturbed or not using good communication techniques.
It’s impossible not to communicate.
Even in silence we’re always communicating. We communicate verbally, through writing, and through our gestures and behaviors. It’s all about the words we use, the way we dress, the way we behave, and what tone/writing style we use in our messages and e-mails.
When we receive these messages we interpret them all quickly and often in a way that is out of our awareness. Although we are quick to assign meaning to what we see and hear from others, we are not always accurate in these interpretations.
How does communication get lost?
To communicate we need at least two people (a message sender and a receiver). Those two people need to be willing to talk and listen to one another. To truly listen and try to understand what is being said, one needs to be emotionally available.
But often we see in our daily lives that even though we make an effort to communicate, we’re often miscommunicating and being misunderstood. Misunderstandings lead to arguments and conflict.
Establishing good communication skills between your partner and yourself may help you solve conflict effectively and in so doing develop a deeper relationship connection.
To do so, you need to eliminate barriers to communication, whether they are physical or emotional. There are lots of things, even the cleanliness of the space, that can create emotional difficulties, and these can all effect communication.
How can good communication skills be developed?
Being able to communicate effectively is without a doubt a very useful tool. It’s easier on some than others. However it’s not impossible to be an excellent communicator, even if you do not gifted.
Here are three simple rules to help you get started:
- Choose a right time and place. Not all messages can be transmitted in public and your message receiver also needs to be emotionally available to listen to you. For instance, when stressed out, you is less likely to listen to criticism, even though there may be some accuracy to the criticism. To help reduce stress, ensure that everyone’s basic needs are met, like making sure that everyone is well rested and not hungry or thirsty.
- Be respectful towards your message receiver. Before giving your message, try to communicate something emotionally supportive. For example, if you were going to ask someone to do something different in a job interview, first say that you feel they are a good fit for the job and that you want them to succeed. Being emotionally supportive and using a respectful tone of voice as well as choosing words carefully will help your message receiver be available to listen to you.
- Your message must be short and clear. Get to the point and try to be as clear as possible on what you intend to say. Lead no room for other interpretations. This does not necessarily mean being blunt, but it also means that you may need to think about what you want to say before entering the conversation. Being clear on what you want to convey can take some thought.
Everyone makes mistakes in communication and working hard to reduce these mistakes can make a big difference. It is also important to realize that communication is not the only thing that is needed. Showing you care in other ways can help a relationship survive the odd communication slip.