We’ve all heard of communication and how it’s essential to any healthy, successful relationship.
But what exactly is communication, and why do we need it?
Communication = two people exchanging ideas, including their feelings, wants, and needs. It’s about opening up about important things and receiving that information from your partner.
Without open communication, problems get swept under the rug, resulting in huge blowup fights about ridiculous things like who forgot to put the milk back in the fridge this morning after breakfast. And we all know arguments like that are never about the milk; they’re about what the milk represents.
So, here are five simple ways to improve communication in your relationship, get on the same page, and turn that “me” into “we.”
1. Rather than doing all of the talking, try to listen and understand
Instead of projecting what you want onto them and entering a conversation with a solution already mapped out, go into it with an open mind.
What do they need and want?
Sit back and actively listen to what they’re saying. Active listening means you’re not forming your response while they’re talking. You’re doing nothing but listening to what they’re saying. Then you can think about their words and figure out how to move forward together.
2. Use the sandwich approach to communication
You might have heard of this communication style in business, but it doesn’t get discussed much in personal relationships. And I don’t know why because it’s incredibly effective.
You start by saying something positive: “Adam, honey, I just wanted to say how much I appreciate you doing the dishes lately. It has really helped me out.”
Then you give your partner some feedback on something you want to change: “If you could try to remember to close the cabinet doors after you, that would be amazing because it makes me anxious seeing them open when I walk into the room.”
And end on a high: “And I also wanted to say I noticed you’ve been filling up the gas in the car, which has been making my life easier, so thank you!”
With the sandwich approach, you can express your needs while making your partner feel good.
3. Be sincerely candid with one another
Absolute truth is one of the foundations of a healthy relationship, but I’m not sure how many of us are being this candid in our relationships.
For example, let’s say you go shopping with your partner, and he’s trying on suits for a cocktail soirée you’re going to next weekend. If he tries on this hideous suit that looks cheap and tacky and asks you if he looks good, don’t say yes!
Don’t be unnecessarily mean, but be honest, even if the person’s feelings get slightly bruised.
If you both speak to each other in a sincerely candid way, communication becomes rock solid. Plus, you won’t ever get caught in a lie because you’re always telling the truth – no matter what.
4. Remember that 93% of communication is non-verbal
That means over 90% of what you say isn’t coming out of your mouth: our tone and body language do the rest of the work.
So the next time your partner has been in a grump for a week, or you want to ask him to start doing more chores around the house, be intentional with how you communicate it.
Saying something with a smile and a light tone dramatically changes what you’re saying and how it’s received.
Naturally, if you’re talking about something more serious, a smile may not be appropriate, and that’s okay.
5. Don’t overcommunicate
I’ve heard a lot of advice on communication over the years, but one thing that doesn’t get talked about enough is to avoid overdoing it.
In a relationship, you’ve got to be wise and choose your battles carefully.
No one wants to sit down every day or week and have a big talk or try and change something in the relationship. That would be overwhelming and drive anyone crazy!
You’ve got to be intentional about the things that matter most to you. If you’re not sure what to prioritize because you’ve got a lot of challenges, seek out support from our community, a relationship coach, or even a therapist.
And if you find you’re repeating yourself and having the same conversation, but your partner is not responsive, it’s time to move on.
What are your biggest challenges with communication in a relationship?
Drop a comment below.