3 Ways to Improve Communication in Relationships
The number one ingredient to any healthy and stable relationship is good communication. When communication is poor, relationships break down. In the Gottman Method we talk about how discussion starts is often how it ends. Using a soft starts increases the chances of a soft ending of connection and being heard. Whether they are platonic, romantic, your family members, or revolve around business, your relationships will thrive if you improve your communication with others. Here’s how:
Be Fully Present
Trust and respect must be earned by both parties. And this requires giving each other your full attention. Ask for a time to talk that works for both of you. Keep distractions like cell phones out of the conversation. Make eye contact and fully listen to what the other person is saying and how they are saying it. Listen to understand, validate, and empathize.
Use “I” Statements
One of the biggest things that make a person tune out during a conversation is when they are told they are doing something wrong. YOU do this or YOU do that is not the best way to get your feelings across. Adding words like always or never take the negative thought and criticism to an extreme.
Try using more “I” statements. These statements focus on your feelings without casting blame on the other person. “I” + feeling word= being heard.
So as an example, instead of saying, “You’re always late!” You can instead say, “I worry when you haven’t shown up and I haven’t heard from you.”
See the difference?
Avoid Negative Communication Patterns
Poor communication is typically the result of negative communication patterns. These include things like passive aggressiveness, ignoring the other person when they are speaking, and yelling. In the Gottman Method we talk about the influence of the 4 Horsemen: criticism, defensiveness, contempt, and stonewalling.
While you may not be able to change your own negative communication patterns overnight, you can commit to becoming more aware of them and when they happen, stop the pattern and change it.
These are just some of the ways you can improve your communication with others. You may also want to seek the guidance of a Gottman trained couples’ therapist who can offer you even more strategies and a safe space to share your feelings.
If you’d like to explore counseling, please reach out to me. I’d love to help you reconnect with your partner.