The foundation of every relationship advice column consists of one clear message – “Communication is key.”
Professionally, or personally, we must be able to understand each other in order to make successful deals, have meaningful partnerships and create long-term relationships. But what does this C-word actually mean?
By no means would I consider myself a relationship expert, but I have learned a lot by failing, and I wish somebody were there to tell my younger self how to save some face.
Here are 5 ways to improve your communication with others this week.
1. Learn the difference between listening to reply and listening to understand.
If you have ever been called out for interrupting people or find yourself holding your breath to respond… this tip is for you.
There is an art to listening and it has nothing to do with being right. Have empathy for the other person’s perspective or opinion and respond with a question like “ tell me more about that “ before quickly judging or giving unsolicited advice. Taking the time to acknowledge and understand another perspective will lead to a deeper understanding and connection with this person - even if you completely disagree.
Pro-tip: Try this by repeating back what you understood from them for clarity. “ What I’m hearing from you is that you think I go out with my friends too often? “
2. Find out your love languages.
Remember the game telephone? The initial message was lost in translation along the way because someone heard one thing and understood another. It’s so important when learning how to communicate with your significant other to understand how they accept and receive affection and love. If your messages aren’t getting heard, take a page out of Gary Chapman’s book and look to the 5 Love Languages to understand how your partner listens. Visit Gary Chapman’s 5lovelanguages.com to identify your form of expression and to learn more about your partner’s so you can ensure your “ I love you’s”, “ I want you’s “ and “ I appreciate you’s” really get heard.
3. Understand that over communicating is not connecting.
Keeping in direct contact all day, every day is not necessarily good communication. While everyone appreciates an “I love you” or an “I can’t wait to see you” text – that “just because” texting of constant conversation can actually contribute to more conflict than anything. Texting leaves room for misinterpretation. There seems to be a different formula for everyone in regards to the exact proper use of emoji’s and considerate response time. Focus on quality over quantity and save communicating when you can pick up the phone for a quick call ( I know, scary right? ) or see each other in person for some real quality time. If you feel smothered in text messages currently, try scheduling it. Give them a window like “ Can I call you when I’m done work? “ Can I get back to you at 2pm? If you’re making these requests, make sure you deliver to show that while you’re busy, they are still a top priority.
4. Speak up right away.
Failing to deal with a problem head-on will result in a blow out later. I think everyone can relate to World War III that breaks out when one little thing, that tiny little trigger like leaving dishes on the counter sets someone off. You know it’s not the dishes they are mad about right? It’s all of the little things that have pilled up under the rug that have gone unresolved. My advice? Speak up, in a progressive and loving way of course, and if they apologize, move on. Warning: It’s very important when calling someone out on his or her BS to not make it an assault. When giving criticism, don’t launch into what is being done “wrong” or what isn’t being done at all. Try a more positive approach and present solutions, so it doesn’t feel like an attack.
5. Be real.
When it comes to communication, honesty is the only policy. If you’re trying to save someone their feelings or dull yourself down for a fear of looking bad — don’t. Being authentic may not always immediately offer warm fuzzies, but being honest in your relationship and to yourself is something to be damn proud of. If you’re having trouble being real - say it first “ I’m struggling to share my opinion here, so this may come out wrong but…”. The world needs more realness and we aren’t doing anyone any favours by just agreeing for the sake of agreeing.
The art of communication is something you have to challenge yourself to learn over and over again, as no two relationships are alike. Speak clearly, listen intently and appreciate that commitment to a relationship is a constant bettering of your self.
HOT COMMUNICATION TIPS:
In a fight? Don’t text this:
(Side note, maybe it’s just us – but anything that ends with a period pretty much seems like you’re mad. It’s the worst. It’s so formal. So angry. So blunt. See what we’re saying?)
“K.” (The worst answer to anything. You’ve successfully ruined the other person’s day.)
“I’m fine.” (We both know you’re not fine.)
“All good.” (Similar to not being fine, but we also both know it’s not “all good.”)
“I’m pregnant.” (Baby trapping, fake or real, is never the answer.)
“Let’s not do this.” (This is confusing. Do what? Not talk? Not text? Or not date?)
“I’m gonna go.” (Gone are the days of MSN messenger. You can’t just sign out - you live here now. )
Emojis that will guarantee you the last word:
Salsa girl. (Bitch, don’t kill my vibe.)
Pink shirt girl. (Any variation – hand up waving, crossed arms, hair flip – she’s sassy.)
Peace sign. (I’m out.)
Waving hand. (Ain’t nobody got time for this.)
Monkey. (Any of the monkeys will do if you want to lighten up the mood.)
Beers clinking. (Saying that you’ll agree to disagree, cheers.)
Kiss face. (K bye, I’m over this. You’re distracting. Still love you though.)
Words by Mandy Balak