Communication is an art, and it’s also one of the most important skills in any relationship—whether it’s mother and daughter, best friends, colleagues at work, or boyfriend and girlfriend. But we don’t get taught how to communicate at school. So where do you learn how to communicate properly?
If you don’t seek out the knowledge yourself, or your parents aren’t clued-up on it either, you probably end up as a poor communicator, through no fault of your own. This can have such a negative impact on all your relationships. Not only does it stop you from expressing how you feel, but it also stops you from understanding the importance of allowing the other person to express their own feelings.
But the great thing is, anyone can be a great communicator—it just requires some time, energy, and focus.
Here’s how to start improving your communication, so you can enjoy stronger, healthier relationships:
1. Understand your communication style in relationships.
There are four main types of communication styles that most people identify with. These are:
A passive communicator tends to avoid expressing their needs and feelings altogether, and just goes with the flow because they want to avoid conflict at all costs. This lack of outward communication often builds up, and leads to resentment, internal suffocation, or anger.
This person will often be very loud and vocal, will raise their voice, display controlling behaviors, and blame or criticize the other person. They can often come across as rude, and poor listeners.
This person may seem passive on the surface, but often display aggression in subtle and indirect ways. Giving someone the silent treatment, or speaking ill of them behind their back are examples of passive aggressive behavior.
This person is able to express their own feelings, needs, ideas, and desires in a thoughtful way; while also being considerate to the other person’s feelings.
Take some time to think about your common communication behaviors when in a relationship, and which one of these four styles you most identify with today.
2. Understand your partner’s communication style.
Once you’ve figured out which style you most identify with, take some more time to think about which style your partner displays to you most often. Being able to understand both of your communication styles will help you see why you clash, and why arguments often work out the way they do.
From here, you can determine where you both need to adapt your communication styles, so you can communicate better with each other.
3. Focus on communicating with love at all times.
One of the greatest rules with communication in relationships is to make sure you’re focusing on love—after all, if you didn’t love each other, you wouldn’t be together, would you?
When you focus on love, and saying and doing things in the most loving way you can, the other person feels it. This shows mutual love and respect for each other, which is vital for any relationship to survive, and flourish.
4. Talk to your partner often.
Some of us avoid speaking about our feelings and problems, which is often a learned behavior from our childhood. But getting things off our chest and addressing issues if and when they arise stops mole hills from growing into mountains.
If you don’t make time regularly to speak to your partner, this is something that could have a profound effect on your relationship.
5. Be open and honest at all times.
When we’re open and honest with our feelings, we feel free. Nobody likes to bottle things up, because it’s suffocating. If you’re afraid of hurting your partner, just remember what we’ve already spoken about—communicate kindly, and with love and respect. Don’t raise your voice, and don’t point the finger. Just be open with your feelings, and invite them to do the same.
6. Practice practice practice!
Like all things, the more we do them, the better we become at them. You might feel like a poor communicator right now, and that’s probably because it’s not something you’ve been aware or, or put much time and focus on. But if you want to get better at it, the only thing to do is practice, practice, practice! The more you practice, the more skilled you’ll become.
This is something you and your partner could commit to doing together, so that you’re able to support and encourage each other through it—and you’ll reap the rewards in watching how your relationship goes from strength to strength.