We often speak and listen to others in a certain way. When we are in relationships, we often end up evolving our communication skills so that we are able to flow well with our partners.
No one is expecting you to change completely or lose your full identity for the whims of another person. That’s not healthy. What is expected is that you will sometimes compromise with your partner, especially if you’re in it for the long haul.
It can be scary and overwhelming on deciding how to improve your communication. Maybe you express very little, and your partner expresses a lot. Maybe your partner wishes for you to talk more and maybe you wish that they would listen more.
Either way, communication is a big part of our relationships. Therefore, we have to know what we’re doing.
Think of it this way: your relationship is an investment and you have to treat it like one. You can’t take it for granted, so you have to do what you need on your end, while your partner does what they need to on their end.
Sure, couples fight sometimes, but it’s not healthy if those fights are constant and are wreaking havoc on your relationship, which is your life investment, your everything, and your reason of being.
Here are some 6 small ways to improve your communication skills.
1. Ask Open-Ended Questions and Check In With Them
Sometimes, we just need to ask a few simple questions, like:
“How are you doing honey?”
Sure, it sounds straightforward but it will keep you aligned with your partner. Your partner will ask the same thing. Plus, it will become a habit, and before you know it, you will find more things to talk about, especially in the days ahead.
Also, maybe mix up the question. Instead of asking the earlier example, maybe you can say:
“How was this week for you?”
Or even say something like:
“What was your fave part of this week?”
While you check-in with your partner, you can eventually work up to even bigger questions like:
“How do you feel about us?”
Or even something bigger like:
“What are your thoughts on the big move coming up?”
2. Avoid Assumptions
We sometimes get lost in our heads and make assumptions based on what we think we know. However, the reality is that we shouldn’t spend too much time obsessing or ruminating on various things.
Instead, we can reach out to the other person and be transparent. I mean, our partners are not mind-readers and assumptions are a good way to make you sound judgemental, even if you didn’t mean to.
At the end of the day, you want to reduce mistrust and misunderstandings. Instead, talk to your partner and ask them an open-ended question. Tell them that you’re feeling a certain way, but that you’re not sure if this feeling is right.
A good partner will support you and validate you.
3. Actively Listen
Listening is a lot easier than done. We talk and then talk some more. The partner talks and then talks some more. Maybe you want to jump in and correct them. Instead, just be a soundboard. Let them talk their mind, and when their turn is done, you will talk your piece.
All the while, think back to the things said by the partner. Reflect those things into your dialogue. Don’t assume or think the worst possible scenario, just let them soundboard. If they can’t soundboard to you, how will they develop the appreciation to talk to others?
4. Avoid Perfectionism
Look, some people wish they can control every little thing about another person. However, a relationship is a partnership and that means that you have to work together and be collaborative.
No one is going to be perfect in this situation.
Your partner may have minor things that you don’t like, and you may be into things that the partner does not like. If it’s a small thing, don’t fret. If it’s a big thing, let your partner know, but frame it as something that bothers you, as opposed to a thing that is about them.
For example, you could say:
“This small thing bothers me.”
But do NOT say something like:
“You do this annoying thing and I hate it.”
That’s a surefire way for them to get mad at you. The trick here is that you primed the situation without using the word “you”, so your partner is less likely to get defensive.
5. Be The Change You Want To Be
We can’t just sit there and expect the relationship to magically change. To change, you need to pull some levers. If you’re in a relationship for a very long, then you have to put in the work and effort.
If it’s the honeymoon phase, you can still rely on pure love and lust to power the relationship forward, but you need something more powerful in the long-haul, like honesty, and integrity. Of course, remaining in love is important too.
For now, ask yourself this:
“Is this relationship worth it?”
If your relationship is worth the effort, then you will do what you need to to keep the relationship alive — and the partner will do the same, especially if they have a similar goal.
6. Talk More or Talk Less
Sometimes, our partners are really talkative because they wished we talked more. While it’s not natural for some of us, it could be a cry for help. Maybe make an effort to stay one extra thing today to lighten up our partner’s day. Also, let your partner know that it’s hard to communicate more, but that you made the attempt.
I mean, it’s the thought that counts.
Plus, if you talk too much, maybe you need to slow down and really hear what the other person is saying. Perhaps they are overwhelmed and have a hard time keeping up with your talkative pace.
Finally, when unsure whether you talk too much or too little, try to compromise. Talk it out and figure out who should say what. Maybe even see a therapist.
I mean, think of them as a neutral third-party. They’re not biased like your relatives and they can pick up on things that others may not notice anyway. Even if you don’t want to go to a therapist, it’s something to consider, especially if you feel your relationship to be worth it.
Overall, regardless of what you end up doing, communication can be pretty tricky. However, it’s not the end of the world and most couples make it work out eventually. Only time will tell if your relationship turns out wonderfully, especially in the years ahead.