Communication in relationships is fundamental to enjoying a healthy connection and building a deep level of trust and understanding. Learning how to communicate effectively and openly can transform the dynamic of a relationship. SilverSingles takes you through the key factors to keep in mind when it comes to great communication in relationships.
“Communication works for those who work at it.” – John Powell
Communication is the basic tenet of any relationship as it’s the framework on which partners come to know and understand each other. If you have poor or broken communication in a relationship, it’s like trying to build a house without a toolkit. Lack of communication leads to misunderstanding, hurt, disconnection and anger between a couple, both individuals can be left feeling unheard and misunderstood.
When you think of the definition of communication – “the act or process of using words, sounds, signs, or behaviors to express or exchange information or express your ideas, thoughts, feelings, to someone else” – it’s obvious that it’s a far-reaching concept. It not only entails what you say but also includes how you communicate, the timing, your body language, what you choose not to say – it’s a complex and multifaceted process.
By the time a couple is in a relationship, you would hope to have established a certain level of communication already. However, communication is something that can, and should, continue to evolve throughout a relationship between two people. A key factor in building a truly great relationship is creating truly great communication practices between you and your partner. The other side of this coin is that a breakdown of communication can lead to a breakdown of a relationship. So, let’s examine the hallmarks of healthy communication.
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“To effectively communicate, we must realize that we are all different in the way we perceive the world and use this understanding as a guide to our communication with others.” – Tony Robbins
You can spot a good relationship from a mile away. The ease in which a couple interacts with each other is indicative of strong communication tools and positive habits they have established in their relationship. Here are some signs of great communication in a relationship. Why should we all aim for these hallmarks? To put it simply, there is no great relationships without great communication. It’s the very means in which two people integrate into another’s life, get to know each other and build a new world together.
10 Signs of good communication in relationships
• You trust one another
• You are open and honest in all aspects
• You treat each other with respect
• You feel confident and comfortable in the relationship
• You function as a team
• You support each other as individuals
• Conflict is not threatening
• You are not afraid to share your opinion
• You feel secure
• You listen to each other
“Every act of communication is a miracle of translation.” ― Ken Liu
If you want to address and rebalance negative communication patterns in a relationship, implement these action points and start the transformation to a flourishing relationship!
• Make it a priority – To start off with, you need to push communication to the top of your priority list. Good communication is worth the time and effort to build in your relationship, so put in the work.
• Start with transparency – The first step in opening the doors to healthy communication is being transparent with your partner. If there’s a lack of communication in your relationship, start by admitting that to one another.
• Read all the signals – Remember that communication is not only words. Take into account all the signs you’re sending and receiving – body language, tone of voice, cadence, timing. Each element is communicating something to you!
• Start small – If communication is challenging for you and your partner, begin with the simple topics, discussing your day in a real way for example. Once you are comfortable, build-up to the more challenging topics like finance and family.
• Listen, listen, listen – Listening is the keystone to communication. Don’t listen to craft a response but simply to hear, to understand, to connect. Learn to really listen and you’re halfway there!
• Ask questions – Asking questions enables understanding. Asking questions facilitates a deeper level of engagement and clarifies any confusion or misunderstanding – so by all means, ask away!
“We are stronger when we listen, and smarter when we share.” ― Rania Al-Abdullah
These are a few relationship-building exercises for couples that can strengthen your communication and bring you both onto the same wavelength.
Active listening is a technique to improve your listening and communication skills. Start off by giving the speaker your undivided attention. Use feedback questions and check-in with what they are really saying – for example ‘I heard you say,’ or ‘is that what you meant?’. Summarize the speaker’s statement and your understanding so as to clarify it with them. This ensures what is being said and understood are aligned. It’s a useful technique to use for tricky topics or areas where you have barriers in communication.
Use ‘I’ statements
Using ‘I’ statements shifts the responsibility on to the speaker and can disable defensiveness in communication, compared to using ‘You-statements’. For example, saying ‘I feel anxious when speaking about money’, can have a very different outcome to saying ‘you make me feel anxious when speaking about money’. Choose to assert how you feel in a situation and hold that responsibility, rather than placing the blame on the other.
Make a rule book
To create a healthy and positive space in which you both feel safe and free to communicate honestly, draw up a couples’ rule book. Outlining the ways that you want to treat each other helps hold you both accountable in the heated or sticky moments. Points such as calling a time out, no swearing or name-calling, and deciding to check in with each other once a week are examples of guidelines that can foster good communication and positive interactions between you.
36 Questions rose to fame in a New York Times article that claimed doing these set of questions with a stranger can make you fall in love by accelerating intimacy. The 36 questions were first published by social psychologist Dr. Arthur Aron under the title ‘The Experimental Generation of Interpersonal Closeness’, where he drew up the questionnaire to see if it was possible to generate intimacy and an emotional connection. Turns out it was! The first couple to do it fell in love and married six months later. Doing the set of questions with your partner builds closeness and provides a framework to deepen intimacy in your communication and relationship. Here is the full list – finish up by gazing into each other’s eyes for four minutes and enjoy the magic of connection.
Communication in relationships can always be improved and fine-tuned. Take the opportunity to continue to grow and build a relationship that lasts with the firm foundation of trust, communication and connection.
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