Couples that communicate well affirm one another by showing each other respect and appreciation. They give each other a lot of compliments. They understand and accept one another. These couples feel respected, valued and important to each other. Couples who listen and respond with empathy say that they feel a high degree of mutual support and understanding from each other.
Communication is important in all areas of life but especially in a personal relationship. To be a good communicator you must first become a better listener. Listening for understanding is the real key to good communications. Seek first to understand the other person and then to be understood. What does this mean? It means you look at things from your partner's point of view - standing in their shoes and putting aside your own agenda while trying to identify with the thoughts and feelings of your partner.
How do you become a better listener? Listed below are some techniques that will help you improve your listening skills.
Restating what you think you heard is a good way to show your partner that you have really listened to them. When there is a natural pause in the conversation then you report briefly on what you heard by paraphrasing in your own words.
Clearing the way by asking questions is also a good technique for practicing good listening. Ask for clarification on anything your partner might have said that you don't quite understand. Ask questions. Asking you partner to explain their feelings helps draw your partner out and helps them to be more open. Keep the conversation going until it is clear you have understood your partner.
Good feedback gives your partner a chance to explain if there are any misunderstanding. It allows your partner to know you are really hearing them. Feedback needs to be given to your partner right away, and should be done in an honest and supportive manor. It should never be attacking or demeaning in any way. If you want to give good feedback then ask the following questions of your partner: "I heard you say...Is that correct?" or "Are you saying that ...?" or "I'm not sure I understand what you are saying would you please explain further?"
Learn to listen with empathy, openness and awareness. Be aware of the body language and tone of voice that your partner is using. If you sense a discrepancy in what is being said to what you see then ask your partner to clear the way for you.
What we say and how we say it can be music to our love. Positive communication is a strong builder of relationships while, in our opinion, the number one destroyer of a relationship is criticism. Criticism according to Webster’s is the act of making judgments; the act of finding fault; censuring; disapproval. We already get way too much criticism. We receive criticism from parents, family members, employers, coworkers, advertisers and the media, etc. All criticism has one thing in common, it is usually not appreciated.
We believe a couple’s relationship is the one area that should be
safe and free from criticism.
We need to choose our words carefully. The words we choose can and do hurt ourselves as well as others. How we say things really matters, especially in an intimate relationship. Rephrasing statements by using "I" or "we" instead of "you" helps in removing blame and can invite and open up positive communications with our partners if phrased in a non-threatening way. "You" statements are demanding, critical, controlling and can create defensiveness. "I" statements are self-revealing and invite understanding. Some examples follow:
Criticism: You never listen to me!
Rephrased: I would like to spend some time together to better understand each other.
Criticism: You never do anything to help around the house.
Rephrased: How might we share the chores so that neither of us feels overburdened?
Criticism: You never tell me you love me.
Rephrased: I love you and I feel so good when I hear you say the words "I love you." Could you say them more often?
Criticism: You never make love to me or show me any affection.
Rephrased: I hope you feel as good as I do when we are affectionate. In what ways might we share that more often?
In order for a relationship to be ideal and lasting each person must be RESPECTFUL towards the other.
Respectful according to Webster’s means: to feel or show honor or esteem for; hold in high regard; to consider or treat with deference or dutiful regard. We recommend that you put the following words to action:
R - respectful, responsible, reassure
E - educate, encourage, evolve
S - sincere, sympathetic, support
P - praise, practice, patience
E - encouragement, enjoyment, enthusiasm
C - communicate, cuddle, compliment
T - truth, trust, tenderness
F - faithfulness, fulfillment, fun
U - understand, unite, uplift
L - listen, learn, love, laugh
When you practice giving positive affirmations to your partner you continue to build their self-esteem as well as your own. If you make a mistake and say something that hurts your partner apologize as soon as possible. A sincere apology goes along way.
We want you to express your feelings and concerns with your mate and your relationship. Instead of criticizing and attacking your mate's character try using a NAME statement to express your concerns in a more positive way.
When you are critical of others it is a sign of low self-esteem. If you felt good about yourself you wouldn't have any need or desire to find fault with others. Check out our articles on Self-esteem.
See our recommended reading list for couples
For more ideas on relationship communication purchase the book Talk to Me. We now offer it as an E-Book! Get it today!