The success of your relationship depends on your ability to communicate. Even when two people have common goals, values, and interests, they can’t be together if they don’t discuss their thoughts and feelings.
If you’re having trouble having a constructive conversation with your partner, you may need to improve your communication skills.
Here’s how to do it:
1. Always show respect, even if you disagree with your partner
Under no circumstances should you shout or swear at your partner. Be as polite to him as you would to anyone else. Otherwise, your conversations will quickly get out of control.
2. Have an hour without phones every night.
Smartphones are very convenient, but they can undermine relationships. Even if you’re good at multitasking, using your phone while you’re chatting looks impolite, no matter how closely you listen.
Set aside time each evening to chat without phones. Let this be a traditional face-to-face conversation.
3. Remember the 5:1 Rule
Relationship expert John Gottman says that for every negative interaction in a healthy relationship, there are at least five positive ones.
When offering constructive criticism, let’s make it clear that you love and respect your partner, even if you are currently offended or angry with him.
4. Take a deep breath before responding to criticism.
It’s easy to lose your temper in a difficult conversation, but you can’t take back words spoken in a fit of rage. This is especially true in a situation where the partner reacts negatively to your words, and this seems unfair to you.
Accepting criticism can be difficult, so count to five, mentally rehearse what you’re going to say, and then respond in as even and calm a tone as possible.
5. Don’t involve the past
Focus on the present. There is no point in dragging long-settled conflicts out into the open unless you are 100% sure they are relevant to the conversation.
Never mention the past just to shield yourself or distract your partner from a pressing topic.
6. Pay attention to non-verbal cues, not just words.
The body often betrays our real emotions. Pay attention to your partner’s non-verbal cues; what do they tell you about his condition?
If words don’t match body language, gently share your observations and ask if he’s hiding his true feelings from you. Don’t accuse him of lying – just ask for more information.
7. Strive to Find a Solution, Not a Win
There’s an old saying: “It’s better to be happy than to be right.”
Good relationships are built on compromises. You will be a more successful couple if you strive to solve problems, and not to assert your innocence.
8. Talk face to face
Communication via SMS or email will not replace a live conversation.
To truly understand your partner’s position, you need to see and hear their tone of voice, gestures, facial expressions, and posture.
9. Paraphrase your partner’s words
If you are not sure that you have understood your partner correctly, use mirror listening. This will give him a chance to correct any misunderstanding.
For example, you can start with phrases like “So you want to say …” and “If I understand correctly, you say …”.
Paraphrase it in your own words to show that you are genuinely trying to understand their meaning.
10. Pause If Needed
We are all overwhelmed with emotions sometimes. If you get too excited, angry, or upset during a conversation, leave the room for a few minutes to collect your thoughts.
11. When it’s time to forgive, don’t hold a grudge
To respect a person means to recognize his right to make mistakes. If you care about your relationship, you can’t afford to bear a grudge.
If the partner sincerely asked for forgiveness and tried to make amends, forgive him. Otherwise, hidden resentment will eat you from the inside for months, if not years. Over time, it will poison your relationship.