10 Tips to Communicate
These are the tips I give all my clients. They look easy and like what we should always be doing BUT I have found that even people who love each other and want to communicate may miss some of these on a regular basis. Some of these will take work to implement and remember, but remember your relationship is worth extra time and effort. Many of these will not work in a situation that is abusive, please seek help if you are experiencing abuse. (Also you may want to listen to this:)
Do not try to think of a response.
Pay attention to the body language of the communicator and use eye contact.
Wait until they are finished.
Repeat back what you heard them say and ask if that is what they mean, if they restate start at the top again until you fully understand.
Think before you speak:
Will this help move the issue towards an agreeable outcome?
Is it relevant to what is happening RIGHT NOW?
Is what I am going to say to hurt/anger the other person?
Do not be defensive:
You may want to argue back and remind the other person of what they have also done wrong that may have caused this issue. This will not help you to reach a loving healthy conclusion.
You do not need to defend yourself at this time, you need to understand what they are trying to say, most of the time the first thing that comes out isn’t really what is bothering the other person and needs no defense.
If you did do something wrong defending it isn’t helpful, it is making excuses to do things you wouldn’t want done to you.
Follow rules for fighting:
I suggest every couple makes a list of rules to use when arguing.
These can include: No name calling, Active listening, take turns, time out and a safe word. You may want more or less rules based on what is needed in your relationship to facilitate communication.
Do not Interrupt:
I know I have said that in other tips but it is of vital importance. If you are able to interrupt you are not actively listening. You can not actively listen and still come up with things to say while the other person is talking.
This is an activity I use with my clients to help feel connected while expressing themselves to their partner. Hold hands and face each other. This gives the feeling of being anchored to the other and enhances safety and stability during a tense moment.
If you are the one speaking about something that upsets you make sure the other person knows you don’t dislike them but the behavior is upsetting.
Allow the other person to speak also.
Try to end on a positive note after you are done talking.
Both parties must WANT to communicate:
You can not make someone who participate in conductive communication.
Both parties should agree on what is being talked about.
Be open to the other person’s viewpoint:
This may surprise you, as it did me, everyone has a different point of view.
Point of view is based on life experiences, beliefs, and past communication so everyone will not see things the same.
Even if you are both in the same room when something is happening, you both have a different perceived experience.
They may actually have valid information.
You may actually be the one who is mistaken. (happens to me)
Assume the person you want to spend the rest of your life with does not want to hurt you:
This may be a difference of belief, or a miscommunication.
Your partner most likely does not WANT to hurt you, they may not have thought anything would be wrong.
If you do believe they want to hurt you, please reevaluate what draws you into the relationship. You may need to talk to someone about your relationship.