7 Not So Easy, Yet Effective Steps To Better Communication Skills
Tired of Playing Telephone With Your Partner? Do You Want Better Communication Skills?
Do you ever get the feeling that your partner does not hear you? Are they not listening to what you are saying or just get the message all mixed up? Well, you are not alone. I always tell my clients that you cannot control your partner. The only thing you can control is yourself when working towards better communication skills. Sounds logical, however what if I told you that you can get your partner to hear you better by how you talk to him/her? Yes-you read correctly…S/He will not hear you better from listening better, rather if you change the way you deliver your message, the message becomes more clear!
1. Look past your partner’s emotion (for now).
The path to better communication skills is to listen to the message your partner is telling you. Typically, in the heat of the moment people react to the emotion others give us instead of the intended message given to us. Initially, try to notice the emotion your partner has and put it on a shelf to address later. This will help you listen for his/her true concerns being told to you. What are they trying to say to you? The message is probably more than just that they are angry.
2. Notice your own reactions and calm yourself down.
You can not have better communication skills without taking deep breaths to calm strong emotions you may have.
Talk to yourself to keep calm and focused on what you want the outcome to be in this conversation. Sometimes telling your partner that you need a break from the conversation for a few minutes to calm down may be helpful. As long as you return to the topic and you inform your partner what you need, this is okay to do. The intention is to keep the tone civil and to be heard.
3. Repeat the message you hear back to him or her.
By repeating what you hear your partner say, s/he will get the impression that not only are you listening to their concerns, but that you really care about their feelings, and ultimately care about him/her. This will open their heart to yours. This will also increase your partner’s desire towards better communication skills.
4. Express your response respectfully.
Be aware of your body language and the non-verbal ways your body communicates. If you are standing with your arms on your hips or have your arms folded, then your body language may sound angry. If you sit down, speak with a calm voice maybe have your hands folded on your lap, sit on your hands if necessary, then you come across as more relaxed. Body language contributes to a conversation more than we realize.
Choose your words carefully. Speak from your position, how you feel, while recognizing how things may impact your partner. Try to notice the response you get from your partner when you say things a certain way. If you get a positive response, then chances are you phrased things well.
5. Be sure the content of your message speaks to their concerns.
Speaking respectfully is one piece of the puzzle. Your partner wants to know you understand their concerns, not just your opinion of their concerns. Don’t worry. I know this can be frustrating. Sometimes we have to address our partner’s concerns first in order to get them to acknowledge our position. Once they feel better understood, they will be more open to understanding you.
6. Express your concerns and ask your partner what s/he heard you say.
Sound silly? By doing this, you can figure out if your spouse/partner got the message you wanted them to receive. This will ensure that they are responding to the correct message. If they are off a little, then you can clarify. Don’t forget to thank them for really listening to you. Everyone wants acknowledgement for his/her efforts, especially in a heated conversation. This can go a long ways in getting your spouse open up to your heart more.
7. Ask for what you need. This may include respectful and calm responses from your partner.
It will be important for you to give a little to get a little in return. Be willing to be flexible with what you want in creating a solution. It’s important for both people to walk away from the conversation feeling understood, loved and as though there is hope for better communication skills.
If your partner seems to get upset in the heat of the moment, remember they are human too. Emotions are a natural response when discussing things of importance. Politely ask him/her to speak softer. Suggest that both of you can make efforts in remaining calm so that a resolution is more reachable. Your partner may not even realize the tone from which s/he speaks. Remember you can only control your side of the conversation. You can, however, ask your partner for a respectful demeanor in return to work towards better communication skills.
The Miming Game
One very important aspect in having better communication skills is to remember is that people tend to mirror the person they are speaking with. Mirror neurons take effect when one person yawns…those around him or her may also feel the need to yawn. The same goes with emotions, which are also contagious. If you present as angry, frustrated and uninterested, then your partner will likely present the same way. If you come across as calm, respectful and attentive, then your partner will likely mirror this in return. Of course, we are all human and sometimes we need to be reminded to stay calm ourselves. Nothing is perfect so take it easy on yourself if this does not come easy the first few times you try.
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