2 Ways to Instantly Improve Your Relationship Communication
Every relationship is unique. And though we all crave love, mutual respect, trust, and happiness, most relationships fail for surprisingly similar reasons. While you can’t control them all, you can definitely improve the odds of your relationship being happy and fulfilling by working on some personal skills, as well as some practices you can do together with your partner(s).
Here’s 5 issues we’ll tackle:
- Poor communication
- Trust issues and infidelity
- Different goals and values
- Lack of effort
- Differences in emotional intelligence
This issue’s issue: Poor communication
Why does communication even matter?
Communication is important in any relationship because it helps you and your partner to understand each other better, to express your feelings and emotions, and to resolve conflicts in a constructive way. Because you get to know each other better, you get a better grasp of what to expect from each other. This way, good communication helps to build trust and intimacy in a relationship, and helps prevent misunderstandings and miscommunications that can lead to problems.
Ultimately, effective communication is essential for the success and happiness of any relationship. When communication is lacking, there is a mismatch between what one partner means and what the other is understanding. There are many ways why this may happen, but one is that the way we interpret the world is through the lens of our own background. For instance, if one says ‘yellow’, people may think of entirely different shades of ‘yellow’ (which leads to longwinded conversations on the color purple).
Assumptions are the mother of all fuck-ups
The issue, of course, arises in one of two cases:
- You think you’re being clear, but your partner doesn’t understand what you mean (even though they may think they do).
- You think you understand exactly what your partner is saying, but they actually mean something else entirely.
There are entire books dedicated to the art of communication, but in short, the one best tip to improve your communication is this: get rid of assumptions. Do not assume you’re being clear. Do not assume you understand your partner perfectly.
When you’re on the talking end, check if you’re being understood.
When you’re on the listening end, check if you’ve understood the message: “Hey, are you saying XYZ? Does that mean ABC? Would this imply that in situation M you would do N?”
This last question, asking for specifics, is another great way to improve your communication. When you’re listening: “Can you give me an example of …?” “What would that look like?” etc. When you’re the one talking: try to provide examples and specific situations. That way, you’ll make abstract ideas very tangible.
Example of vague communication:
“I want to be able to rely on you!” Reliability means different things to different people; your partner may think themselves perfectly reliable, even if you’d disagree.
Making it specific:
“When you tell me you’ll be home by a certain time and you’re running more than 15 minutes late, I’d like you to let me know the moment you realize you won’t make it.” Here, you’re being very specific about your wishes. While this doesn’t always mean your partner will be able and/or willing to meet them, at least it’s clear what you want.