How have your communication skills been in the last year? Have you been open and loving or frustrating and blaming?
Do you think communication is really so hard that you’ll never get it right?
Then I have some great news for you.
Here are 10 dos and dont’s for healthy relationship communication:
1. Don’t focus on what is missing in your conversations
When you think things like “He acts as if he takes me for granted,” you will continue communication habits that lead to reinforcing those same feelings and eventually building resentment and misunderstanding.
2. Do focus on how you want your ideal communication to be
Think instead, “I would like him to give me compliments once in a while and let me know he appreciates me more often.” Then adjust your communication to let him know your desires in an encouraging non-judgmental way. For example, you can say, “I love it when you say you like the way I look. It makes me feel like a million bucks and even more loved.”
3. Don’t expect your partner to always be ready to talk when you are
People are different and choosing the best time of day for big discussions may not necessarily always work but always choosing the wrong time is a sure bet for failure.
4. Do learn each other’s timing preferences for communication
If you really think about it, you probably know the best time your partner is most open to communication and when they are unavailable. Share your timing preferences with each other and commit to respecting them.
5. Don’t beat the iron when it’s hot
When it comes to communication, hot emotions that get in the way almost always lead to saying those words we immediately wish we could take back.
6. Do cool down and practice the “SOBS” technique
Stop what you are doing. Observe the situation from a sensory standpoint. What am I feeling? Breathe in at least 10 deep breaths. Ask yourself “So what?” Is this battle really worth it or can you let go? Would you rather be right or happy?
7. Don’t go it alone when you have a real communication breakdown
When a communication breakdown has taken hold, do not rely on friends and family for advice and suggestions.
As well-intended as they may be, or not, they are neither neutral nor qualified to help you take the needed steps for healthy communication in a relationship.
8. Do seek the support of a coach sooner than later
A coach can help you take a look at the bigger picture, keep you on track, and hold you accountable for reaching your communication goals. You’d be surprised at how you can turn poor communication around with the right tools and guidance when you take action quickly.
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9. Don’t be hard on yourself or your partner when it may not go as planned every time
Learning open, non-judgmental communication is a process that often requires skills, and changing habits that don’t happen overnight. There will be a lot of little signs along the way that communication is opening up.
10. Do make a list of indications and feelings that will let you know you’re on track
Then celebrate your small victories together. Here is a fun tip that works for families and couples. Have a jar for keeping the notes of appreciation and acknowledgment of little successes. At the end of the week, take a look at them and then reward yourselves with a celebration of your successful steps.
Deb Dutilh is a Relationship and Compatibility Coach and has over 25 years of international experience in teaching and personal development. She writes to help women learn how to stop people pleasing, and how to communicate their needs and get them met.