Communication is a fundamental aspect of human interaction and vital in shaping relationships. Effective communication is essential in fostering strong connections, building trust, and promoting understanding between individuals. Communication is even more critical in a relationship, forming the foundation of healthy and harmonious interactions. Misunderstandings, conflicts, and disagreements can arise without effective communication, leading to stress, anxiety, and even breakups. Therefore, one must learn how to communicate effectively in our relationships.
Communication in a relationship goes beyond just talking to your significant other, family member, or friend. After all, no relationship is the same, so it involves active listening, understanding, and empathy toward their feelings and needs. Effective communication involves expressing your thoughts and emotions clearly and concisely while creating a safe space where both partners feel comfortable sharing their thoughts and feelings without fear of judgment or rejection. Unfortunately, many people struggle with this because they may have grown up in environments where open communication was not encouraged, or they may lack the necessary communication skills.
To improve communication in your relationships, here are some tips:
1. Make sure you are speaking the same language
One of the biggest mistakes in communication is automatically assuming that the other person understands your statement for face value. The problem with this is that depending on your past, your upbringing, your values and your perception, you may have a very different definition of specific words.
For example, with one of my clients the issue was that she felt her husband didn't respect her. When we worked together, she discovered that her definition of respect, in her perception is when he acknowledges the tasks she's done during the day. Her partner on the other hand associated respect with taking care of the family financially. So when the argument starts and she's accusing her partner they don't respect her, they are NOT speaking the same language.
The best thing to do before it escalates is to ask the very important question: "What does respect mean to you?" this will allow you to understand what the other person is trying to say and then you can come to a mutual understanding of what it means so that you are understood in the conversation.
2. Make a list of your values
The most common error in relationships is taking for granted that the other person has the same values as you.
This is true in relationships but also in families, with your children, with your siblings and even with your work environment. Everyone knows deep down what their fundamental values are but sometimes it's very important to redefine them. As we grow and evolve some of the values may change throughout your life.
I have clients that are having difficulty in communicating because the other person just doesn't have the same belief system. A perfect example is one client who was perfectly healthy and then became sick. I had done her value chart a year earlier and health and wellbeing was not on the list and once she fell sick her value of health and well-being became number one on the list.
The best approach to this is to reconfirm your values with a life coach and you can repeat it with the other people in your life. You will then be able to navigate the conflicts from a different perspective.
Fun fact: Parents feel that their children 'should' have the same values as them because they taught them their way of life. In reality, children learn values not only from their parents but also from their teachers, their peers and their environment. As they grow older they keep the values that best suits their beliefs. So don't assume your kids will be on the same page as you :)
3. Set some boundaries
What happens when the argument escalates? We all have defence mechanisms that take over when emotions run high. At this point you have passed the point of no return. Nothing that you can say at this time will be heard nor well received.
Have some tactics in place before it escalates. It can be as simple as saying "I need 10 minutes to gather myself and I will get back to you" or is can be your own unique way to diffuse the situation. With my clients I help them find the best way to learn how to effectively deal with a difficult conversation and then to get back to issue at hand. Most arguments are based on right and wrong, or my way or no way but there's so much more going on underneath with feelings of being hurt or abandoned or even not understood. I work with my clients so they can clearly communicate to help their relationships thrive.
Effective communication is critical in any relationship, requiring effort and commitment from both parties. However, you must take the initiative and find ways to improve communication to strengthen your relationships. This way, you can have more meaningful connections, resolve conflicts, and build trust in any relationship.
Maria Caruana provides comprehensive services for relationship coaching in Montreal, QC. Maria is a licensed NLP coach who can help you improve your communication skills for better relationships, and she also specializes in health and wellness for solo or group sessions.
Call Maria Caruana today at 514-755-0085 to book an appointment!