How to communicate to build healthier relationships

 Advanced communication skills are a crucial component of healthy relationships. 

Some Suggestions:

1. Stop and listen.

Put aside our point for the moment and just listen.

2. Force yourself to hear.

Rephrasing what a person has just said to them : Reflective listening 

3. Be open and honest.

Some people rarely if ever let themselves be open to others. Being open means talking about things you may have never talked about with another human being before in your life. It means being vulnerable and honest.

(See the work of Brene Brown on the value of being prepared to be vulnerable.)

It means opening yourself up to possible hurt and disappointment. 

But it also means opening yourself up to the full potential of all a relationship can be.

4. Pay attention to nonverbal signals.

Nonverbal communication is your body language, the tone of your voice, its inflexion, eye contact, and how far away you are when you talk to someone else.

5. Stay focused in the here and now.

To be respectful of one another you should try and keep the discussion (or argument) focused to the topic at hand. 

Arguments that do veer off the current issue tend to escalate and grow.

6. Try to minimise emotion when talking about important, big decisions.

7. Be ready to cede an argument.

How many times do we continue to argue or have a heated discussion because we simply want to be “right.”

8. Humour and playfulness usually help.

Humour helps lighten everyday frustrations and helps puts things into perspective more gently than other methods. Playfulness reminds us that even as adults, we all have a side to us that enjoys fun and taking a break from the seriousness of work and other demands made on us.

9. Communicating is more than just talking.

To communicate better and more effectively in your relationship, you don’t only have to talk. You can communicate in other ways — Keeping in touch throughout the day or week through email or other electronic means also reminds the person you’re thinking about them and how important they are in your life.

John Gottman PhD  a renowned researcher in the field of relationships who runs what is called a “Love Lab’, in his book The Relationship Cure talks of: 

Soft versus Hard startups when wanting to raise issues.

  • Begin with something positive 
  • Express appreciation and gratitude.
  • Start with “I" instead of “you”
  • Don’t stockpile complaints

Criticism versus Complaint 

  • State your needs without attacking or blaming the other person 
  • Describe your side as your perception- not the absolute truth.
  • Focus on specific behaviour rather than making global judgements.

I know that I am a work in progress when it comes to these things - even though I have completed post grads and diplomas which were supposed to bring me up to speed regarding communication skills.....So what about you, how are your communications helping or damaging your relationships?

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