Learning how to communicate respectfully with your partner is something most of us are not taught. While we expect it to become natural, I wonder why there are so many couples struggling with this exact issue.
We learn to communicate usually from our parents. If we had parents who spoke respectfully, demonstrated compassion, love and kindness, and resolved any issue with a calm level of mediation before reaching an agreement, then congratulations, you have learned the skills. Problem is, most of us did not grow up in a household filled with this type of exchange. In fact, many of us learned to argue, raise our voice and demand via the actions of our parents. Wow, mum and dad have a lot to answer for.
Once you realise your style of resolution and communication may need a little improvement, you can make the adjustments to ensure your life is filled with kindness, respect and appreciation. Here are a few tips to ensure you can, in fact, develop a new communication style. This will then be learned by your children as well, who will hopefully demonstrate the same to you, their future partner and their kids.
Ways for Couples to Communicate correctly include:
1. Advise your partner you wish to discuss something – advise the time eg: ‘do you have 10 minutes now to talk about something with me please’ if they don’t they should advise you when they will such as ‘sorry can’t right now, what about at 2pm when I’ve finished this job’. Never just say ‘Hey, I need to talk to you’ because we need to respect their mind may be elsewhere so advising in advance sets the scene to focus.
2. Stick to the one issue – restrict your language and get directly to the point of the issue. Too often we bring in a range of other things that are annoying us and this sends the reason for the conversation goes way off tangent. Speak about the one thing only, save anything else for a future conversation is needed. We also need to ensure we do not overwhelm our partner. You have likely thought at length about this problem or issue so to bombard them with the lot is way too much, they will naturally shut down if its too much to process at one time.
3. Don’t Blame – State what it is you are feeling, never blame the other person for causing your feelings, as these belong to us. We process events and place an emotional attachment to it, they do not, so it really is our responsibility on the connections we made. By all means, share this information but refrain from blaming the other person for the way you feel.
4. Paraphrase back what you think you heard – we often place meaning on something we heard the other person say. By paraphrasing back what you think they said allows for clarity to be made to ensure the topic of conversation remains targeted.
5. Be Curious – assuming, typically leads to mistakes. While we may think we know what they are thinking or going to say or even mean by the words they are using, be curious. Ask them to clarify to ensure you are in fact correct in your interruption of what they have said.
6. Mention the issue before moving directly onto the solution – too often we talk and talk about the problem. You already both likely know precisely what the problem is, we just get so caught up in the issue and blame, we forget to concentrate on the solution. Find the solution as fast as you can to resolve and move on.
7. Empathise – when we empathise we are saying I think I understand this from your perspective and the reason this is so important to you. Knowing this means I will stop, listen and evaluate what I can do to assist you, the person I love and care for, to feel better.
8. Never expect perfection – Remember none of us is perfect so expecting them to be will always end badly. If our expectations are unrealistic, reconsider them carefully.
Being mindful of this person you share your life with is essential. I am sure you would agree the person you have chosen to spend your life with is a sweet, loving, kind individual, albeit frustrating at times. Lovingly accept this person of choice, imperfections and all.
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