Good communication is the cornerstone of happy relationships. Learn how to talk and listen successfully
We all know good communication is at the heart of every good relationship. Whether it has been a wonderful or a rotten day, whether there has been a crisis or a triumph, sharing it in words makes you and your partner feel more understood, more appreciated, more loved. The ability to communicate well is the most important relationship skill of all.
Here are five foolproof lessons to help you both talk and listen effectively and conquer bad communication habits for good.
Lesson One: listen well
Though you probably listen to your partner a lot, do you listen effectively? Half-hearted attention, with one eye on the kids or the television, is often worse than not listening at all because it comes across as if you are not interested. Instead:
- Set aside ten or twenty minutes with each other every day to ‘update’. If you have a busy life, it can seem like time wasted, but make sure concerns are aired and you understand each other. It really can avoid problems down the line.
- When you are listening, aim to make your partner the centre of attention. Turn to him, look at him, and put other thoughts aside until he is finished speaking.
- Use positive body language to acknowledge what he is saying with a nod or a smile. He will feel appreciated and therefore more likely to listen to you.
- To show you have listened, repeat back what you have heard or ask a focused question. This shows him you understand and sympathise.
Lesson Two: know how to talk
Though you may talk to your partner a lot, do you talk effectively?
Women and men’s talking styles are very different. They can glaze over if we bombard them with too much talk.
- Do not ramble on, giving him a sort of ‘stream of consciousness’ of how you think and feel. Talk in bite-sized chunks so he can take his turn and digest what you are saying.
- Keep ‘checking in’, noticing his body language to find out whether he is still involved in what you are saying. If he seems distracted, it may be he is just confused. So make your point again a different way.
- If you are talking about something emotional or intimate that might stress him, cut out distractions, such as children or the family dog. Then move in close and touch. He will relax and be more able to interact with you.
- Do not be put off if he rushes in with a solution before you are ready. Women need to talk round a problem, and explore their feelings about it. Men feel better going straight for the action. His ‘fix it’ comment means he wants to help, wants to sort things out so you do not feel bad any more.
Please read Part 2 of this article for the rest of the lessons.