Are you Communicating……

Posted by on Sep 6, 2016 in Couples Counseling

Are you Communicating……

Effective communication is key for any successful and lasting relationship. We have heard this statement over and over again. This seems like something that would be quite easy to accomplish, right? Especially when we spend most of our time during the day communicating. However, communication between co workers, colleagues, friends and acquaintances is altogether a different form of communication, than with our partners and other loved ones. Is what is being communicated truly being heard by the other party? Do you think you are communicating, when you may just merely be making noise?

So what does effective communication look like? The components and key elements for effective communication are nothing that you haven’t heard before. In order for one to communicate, a message needs to be delivered by one individual, and heard by the other. Sounds simple enough, right? However, many of the couples that I see in my practice, tend to lack this simple component of communication. Furthermore, according to research the way that couples communicate can be traced back to their childhood and upbringing. If one comes from a family where it’s natural to exchange ideas, including the exchanges of feelings and emotions, then it would make sense as an adult to continue in this familiar pattern. Offcourse the opposite would also be true.

Approaching your partner to have a conversation
There are couples in relationships that do not talk about deep disturbing issues. So approaching your partner to have a conversation regarding your true feelings can be difficult, especially if you are not used to sharing on this level. It such a case being honest about your feelings is key. Revealing things that are embarrassing or humiliating can be hard to express, there usually is a sense of vulnerability that comes along with that. However, your partner should be that one person that you can be vulnerable with, as a level of trust should already exist between you two.

Going into a conversation and giving up the idea that you have to be right is also necessary. No one can take away the right to your feelings. They are yours to own, but do keep in mind that your partner does not have to accept or agree with it. Being true to each other is necessary for a good relationship. Respect each other’s opinion, even if you do not agree, or cannot come up with a common solution.

We all are aware that listening, really listening is very important, but how does one truly listen? This skill is not something that is natural for most, and has to be learned and practiced in order for it to be effective. Firstly, listening is not about you, but instead it’s about the individual that is telling the story. Really listening or active listening involves hearing your partner out completely, without any interruptions. Listen from within, empathize with partner, it takes a lot to really give of oneself in that way. Your partner is not seeking advice at this time, but instead he/she simply wants to be heard and seen. You will have to put your personal needs and self aside and truly listen to what is been said. Remember this is not about your agenda, really pay attention to grasp what’s being communicated.

Paraphrasing is a great way to let your partner know that you are really listening to what is being said. You can simply repeat what you heard him/her communicate, as well as any feelings expressed. If your interpretation was not accurate, then your partner will correct you, so that you both can be on the same page. Offcourse if you are still unclear about what is being said, you can simply ask your partner to clarify even further.

Some common hinderance to communication
Some of the common hinderance to effective communication includes using intimidation tactics to get ones way. Couples use intimidation to hurt, bully and get their way in relationships. These behaviors can be subtle or overt in nature, but it often leaves the other party feeling guilty and responsible for their relationship failures or an unhappy union.

Other hinderance to communication include body language as well as tone of voice during communication. It’s often said that ” it’s not what you say, but how you say it”. The same is true for the non verbal cues that you exhibit while communicating. The right tone of voice will set the stage for neutral communication whereas the wrong one, will only make things worse and can leave the other person in a defensive state. Research indicates that couples are kinder to strangers, than their own partners. Ask yourself, would I talk to someone else in this manner, as I am talking to my spouse? Treat each other the way, you would like to be treated

Body language is equally important when communicating. You once again want to create a non hostile and relaxed environment for free flowing communication. If what you are communicating does not match your body language, it can be confusing to the other party. Your actions should match what you are communicating.

Finally, communicating to your mate in a childish or parental manner, is a huge hinderance in effective communication. If your communication involves seeking approval, or criticisms, looking for directions and being indecisive, you are communicating in a childish manner. A parental manner of communication may involve the communicator being critical, judgmental, overbearing and dominating, These types of communication are not acceptable in any independent, equal, adult relationship and will only further distance communication in your relationship. This is disrespectful and can be humiliating for your partner.

In conclusion
Although every relationship is different, there are common threads between how couples communicate and work together. Without healthy communication in your relationship, one partner will always be unhappy with the way that things are. I hear it all the time ” if we can just talk more, things could be better”. Like everything else in any relationship, communication is something that has be worked on in order for it to be effective. If the lack of communication is holding you back from experiencing a great relationship, then it’s time to fix it. Once a problem is identified in the relationship, one can always attempt to work on it. Since communication is a vital element in any relationship this component has to be effective in order for the relationship to be healthy. If you need help in this area, don’t leave it up to chance, find someone that can help. It’s never too late to try to make it right.