If your relationship is like every ordinary relationship in DC, communicating with your partner can be a bit challenging at times. For many couples, there are times when it feels so good to talk to each other; when your communication is all about praise, admiration and the expression of love for each other. There are also times when there is so much disagreement and misunderstanding that it just seems better to shut up for the fear of generating or fueling unnecessary tensions and arguments. When your communication goes wayward, it is so easy for the voice that once sounded so sweet and angelic in your ear to also become the one voice that constantly makes you weary, angry and frustrated. So how do you and your partner communicate? Do you always feel comfortable and happy talking to each other, or does your communication often feel more like an unpleasant chore? And in all this, do you feel more like the victim or the culprit?
Well, whether you feel like the victim or the culprit, what you need to understand is that the tone you set for your communication is the tone it will take. You can improve your communication with your partner by following the following easy steps:
1. Learn to speak with “I” statements
This means you should always express the way you feel instead of blaming or accusing your partner. Whenever you are unhappy with something, say the way you feel without directly faulting your partner for it. For example, instead of saying, “You hurt me yesterday by staying late with your friends at the club,” you should rather say, “I felt hurt when I had to wait late into the night for your return from the club yesterday.” Speaking with “you” makes it more of blame and a recipe for argument. On the other hand, speaking with “I” only expresses your feeling and earns you sympathy and perhaps an apology. So instead of saying, “Why is your room so messy every time I visit?” consider saying, “I feel uncomfortable whenever I walk into a messy room” and see how different her reaction to both statements will be. The first statement is more of an accusation or blame and will make her defensive and trigger a conflict. The second statement only describes your feeling and is less likely to cause an argument.
2. Always use courteous language
If you want to be addressed as a gentleman, you need to speak and act like one. Begin requests with “Please” and say “Thank you” when your request is granted or when you receive special favors or treats from your partner. Be respectful in your choice of words and gestures when communicating with her and she will do the same for you; that is the law of reciprocity. Speak to your partner the way you want her to speak back to you.
3. Always avoid ambiguity and speak plainly and clearly
Ambiguous statements are capable of being understood in more senses than one, which could be in a positive or negative sense. Whereas you may be implying the positive sense of an ambiguous statement, she may only understand it in its negative sense; and situations like this can turn your communication into arguments.
4. Express feelings and opinions openly, honestly, politely and promptly
Always express your displeasure at or dislike for a particular statement or behavior at the very moment it occurs, not later, without disregarding the need for decorum. You can also demand an apology if you so desire. This will enable you to free your mind or move on instead of grieving over it or fighting a silent battle. Whenever your resentments are not voiced out for resolution, it can make you exhibit passive aggressive behavior which can negatively impact your communication.
5. Apologize immediately you say something offensive
Learn to say, “I’m sorry” whenever you say something offensive, and withdraw any mean or derogatory remarks instantly. This will help you smoothen your communication and avoid arguments and fights. As much as possible, avoid insults, malicious jokes, sarcasm, and derogatory comments about your partner, her friends and family.
6. Always speak kind words and be slow to anger
Speak nice things to your partner always and resist allowing your temper to take over your communication. Whenever you find yourself questioning your partner’s motive for making a particular statement, pause and ask yourself, “Could I be wrong?” instead of starting an argument around it.
7. Use persuasion rather than compulsion or force when communicating with your partner
Whenever you need a favor, don’t demand or command; request instead.
8. Be receptive to criticism
When you are receptive to criticism, you create a favorable atmosphere in your relationship for open and honest communication. This also helps to build trust in your relationship and improve your communication.
9. Criticize constructively
Try not to criticize your partner; but when you have to, do so constructively. Constructive criticism describes your partner’s behavior as separate from her person. It focuses on what your partner can do differently rather than what she did wrong, which can help avoid arguments and improve your communication. For example, instead of saying, “Can’t you cook anything else apart from burgers?” you could say, “I like it better when you cook different varieties of food. Can I help you cook chili tonight?” This will save you a lot of trouble with your communication.
10. Communicate frequently and learn to be a good listener
Always listen to her more and make the effort to hear and understand her. Find things to talk about by engaging in interesting activities together like watching movies and other television programs.
If you follow these steps, you will improve your communication and enjoy a green relationship.