Improving Communication in Relationships

Any relationship is bound to have some conflict, but good communication results in a stronger relationship and a brighter future. To improve communication in relationships, both parties involved need to be honest about how they feel and about their expectations. If you do not learn how to communicate, you may create a permanent wedge between you and your loved one.

Learn to Listen

A major part of communication in relationships is learning to listen. It's a fine art. Hearing and listening are different matters entirely. You can always hear, but listening involves understanding how your partner is feeling, addressing their concerns and maybe taking some blame. Most communication problems in relationships stem from issues with listening.

Part of listening is not interrupting. You may disagree with something your partner is saying, or you may agree so strongly that you want to chime in, but part of listening is taking in what is said. If you jump into the conversation or talk over your partner, it may appear that you haven't heard or processed their words.

To show your partner that you've been listening, repeat back some of what they've said and ask if you understand them. Whatever you do, don't become defensive and throw what they've said in their face. No one is 100% at fault in a situation, and no one is 100% right.

Consider Your Partner's Point-of-View

In a conflict or discussion, you should always try to see the other person's side of things. No one is completely irrational, and, even if you disagree with a person, you can still try to grasp their perspective. Is there something you might be missing? An argument isn't all about you, and it isn't all about the other person, either. To show that you are not thinking only about yourself, be sure to ask for your partner's point-of-view. Sometimes that's all it takes to show your loved one that you care.

Stay Focused on the Present

You want to address the present situation, conversation or issue. Dwelling on the past can stall any kind of communication. So, if you are trying to deal with a current disagreement, emphasize the present situation and do not bring up past grudges. If you deal with issues as they arise, you won't need to bring them up in the future.

"I" Versus "You"

Sometimes improving communication in a relationship is as simple as altering the way you say things. Instead of making "you statements" ("It's your fault that we're late"), try using "I statements" ("Being late makes me anxious"). This simple switch takes the blame off or your partner and is less accusatory. Your partner might then focus more on your feelings instead of feeling like you're being petty. A switch in phrase or word choice enables you to take ownership over how you feel, better explains those feelings and sounds less aggressive. You can still stand up for yourself without attacking another person.

Compromise Is Key

You may believe that you are right in an argument or discussion, but that doesn't mean there's not a solution for the situation. You don't want to try to win every argument you're in. This will make you look stubborn and closed-minded and may make your partner feel disrespected, as if you never heard a word they said.

If you and your loved one are trying to make a decision, are in an argument or disagree about something large or small, always search for a compromise that makes you both happy. Part of any healthy or positive communication is finding a resolution that both you and your loved one agree upon.

Take Space If Needed

Some discussions do not require immediate solutions, even if you feel like you need an emotional resolution at the time. If you need time to think things over or find yourself growing angry, don't be afraid to ask for some space. You don't want a discussion about the grocery bill to turn into a situation where you throw a plate at your loved one's head or say something you'll regret later.

Be up front about needing some time to think things over, and be respectful if your partner says the same to you. Part of good communication tactics is assessing how you feel and why. Taking a break from a situation can clear your head and give you some perspective.

Keep at It

You may be frustrated when you and your partner are having trouble communicating, but this does not mean you should ditch the situation entirely. When it comes to conflict, don't shut down, stop talking or leave just because the two of you are having trouble. Passive-aggressiveness isn't a viable solution, either. That is relationship TNT, and it is better to be up front about how you feel. If you're passive now, the aggressiveness will come back with a vengeance.

Work Toward a Solution

If you have an issue, brainstorm a solution. Not only will this help you and your loved one reach a compromise or come closer to terms for compromise, but it will also show your partner that you are looking for a solution and aren't just on the attack. Thinking of solutions is a productive way to settle a conflict. You don't want your feelings to cloud the fact that you and your partner can fix almost any situation.

Watch Out for Bigger Problems

If the two of you cannot deal with conflict and have consistent troubles communicating, then having a healthy long-term relationship will definitely be difficult. Consider seeking counseling if every disagreement ends in doors slamming or tears. Conflict is part of any relationship, but it doesn't always have to end with an explosion. Communication in relationships can be frustrating, but you and your partner should work together to improve it.

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