Most people would agree that good communication is a key factor in successful relationships. The problem is that most people don’t really understand what it takes to have good communication in their relationships. Let’s look at some basics and the 9 steps to improve communication with your partner.
Communication is much more than just talking. We are constantly communicating with our body language, facial expressions, actions, and even by not talking. Problems in communication occur when the message we are sending is not understood the way we intended. It takes effort to be a good communicator. Communication is a skill we need to learn and practice to become effective.
Communicate to be understood
The goal of communication is to send a message and be understood. Without understanding our messages can be misinterpreted, causing frustration and conflict. If everyone thought the same way, communication would be effortless because our words and actions would be easily understood.
We have different ways of thinking and understanding that are continually influenced by the unique factors of our lives and personalities. Because of this, when we have something to communicate it is our responsibility to send the message in a way the receiver can understand. This can be tough because we must adjust and take the high road when it comes to delivery.
You might feel like screaming but if you really want to be understood and get positive results from your message, you can’t. You might be heard if you’re yelling, but this type of delivery doesn’t promote good communication.
Less is more
When we sit down to have a conversation, we might come to the table with a lot to say. You are so upset by something that was said or done and now you’re going to tell your partner all about it. You have a mental list of all the things you are upset about and you’re going to lay them out one by one, so your partner knows exactly what they did wrong and how you feel about it. You have an important decision to make; do you want to be heard or understood? Do you want to start solving the problem or create new ones?
Communication is a cycle of sending and receiving messages. The components of that cycle include:
- The sender – This is the person initiating the cycle who has a message to send. You are starting the cycle so you will set the tone for the conversation. The sender needs to tailor the message to the receiver and deliver it in a way that the receiver will understand. This means using language, tone, and body language that doesn’t make the receiver feel attacked or become defensive.
- The message – The information we want to communicate. Remember to use language and terms your receiver understands, this isn’t the time to show how smart you are. Also, remember that when it comes to talking sometimes less is more. Keep your message simple and avoid repeating yourself or rehashing the same thing repeatedly. If you are upset your partner made a mess, say so, but don’t bring up all the other times they left a mess. Doing this might feel like an attack and your receiver will stop listening before you even finish your sentence.
- Interference – There are a lot of things that can interfere with your message being received the way it was intended. Things like background noise, distractions from other people, and the state of mind of the receiver. We’ve all experienced talking to someone and then noticing they are zoned out, thinking about other things, and not listening. Try to reduce interference as much as possible before you begin your conversation.
- The receiver – The recipient of your message. (Once they have received your message the cycle continues as they now become the sender of feedback to your message)
- Feedback – Once the receiver has interpreted your message, they must now construct a new message to be sent to you, making you the new receiver.
- Interference – The new message will need to overcome external interference such as background noise and/or internal interference such as the new receiver thinking about other things while you deliver your message.
9 Steps to Improve Communication with your Partner
As you can see, there are a lot of opportunities for messages to not be delivered the way the sender intended. Good communicators know about these obstacles and carefully consider the construction, delivery, and timing of important conversations. Here are some steps you can take to improve the odds of your message being correctly interpreted.
- Carefully consider the goal or desired outcome of the message you want to send.
- Choose the right time and place for the conversation.
- Consider the receivers’ mood and state of mind.
- Use non-threatening language such as “I feel overwhelmed” instead of “you never help.”
- Invite the receiver to help you find a solution instead of telling them what needs to happen.
- Listen respectfully to feedback while trying to understand the message you are being sent.
- Remember that winning in a relationship isn’t being “right.” Winning is successfully delivering your message, listening to feedback, and continuing the communication cycle to find a solution or resolution to the issue, and create positive connections through communication.
- Be humble enough to admit if you’ve made a mistake.
- Be Kind.
Communicating to be understood takes practice, especially if you and your partner have a history of ineffective communication patterns. To be understood you must set emotions such as hurt or anger aside long enough to construct and deliver a message that doesn’t put your partner on the defensive and lets them consider the meaning and intent of your message. Don’t lose sight of your goal and don’t give up, practice makes perfect.
How can Unakriti help?
Our Communication Skills Workshops help you on your journey to communicate effectively and to become an influencer.
Contact us if you would like to learn to practice active listening, awareness, body language, and many other aspects that make up for a good communicator. If you prefer personalized sessions, browse our Transformation Coaching plans.
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