Want to have better communication with your partner?
Let’s skip the fluff and go straight to the actionable quick tips that you can implement immediately.
Quick Tip #1: Cultivate Respect
By choosing to be respectful in how you talk with your partner, you choose to have more peaceful and rewarding conversations. Speaking respectfully will allow each of you to be heard and understood way easier. Even if you have a complaint or conflict, being respectful will go much further in helping to resolve the problem. Make sure to infuse your conversations with respect by being kind, slow to anger, speaking in “I” statements, and trying to be mindful and recognize any emotions that are coming up before they become unmanageable. Also, give them your full, undivided attention when talking. Make eye contact, physically turn towards them, and don’t be distracted by other things. This will convey respect simply by giving them your attention.
I teach many couples during private sessions with me how to practice these skills in real-time and I implement them myself at home with my partner. Once respect is at the forefront of how you approach any conversation, it will typically remain that way. Dr. John Gottman actually found that about 94% of the time, the tone a conversation begins with is likely to be the one it will end with.
Quick Tip #2: Show Appreciation
Even if it’s for something tiny like remembering to turn on the porch light at night or unloading the dishwasher, or large like thanking them for their support during a difficult time, showing appreciation for your partner proves that you care about them. Drs. John and Julie Gottman strongly believe that building a culture of appreciation in your relationship by doing and saying small things often helps create more empathy, connection, and love. If you assume your partner knows you appreciate them and their actions but you don’t tell them, that may actually cause damage to the relationship. It’s better to speak up and tell them so they know for sure. The best part is that you’ll see the fruit of your appreciation and may even receive it back.
Putting effort into building appreciation for your partner regularly will give you plenty of reserve to draw from when things aren't going great between you. Think of it as safeguarding the health and strength of your Partnerhood's immunity system. Just like taking vitamins and eating nutritious foods helps your body's immune system, showing regular appreciation builds up resiliency in your relationship.
Quick Tip #3: Be Curious
My last tip is being curious about your partner and getting out of your own world. In doing so, you put yourself aside for a moment and actively listen to their concerns, dreams, and desires. Asking questions to genuinely show interest usually is the quickest way to build connection and effective communication. The general population typically “listens” in order to respond yet they are not fully engaged in the other person’s experience or reality. By actively listening and holding on to your response for a moment until your partner is completely understood, you may find that you’ll empathize much better and see their point of view, therefore avoiding conflict or miscommunication.
I tend to say that if you can remember your ABC's, you'll avoid falling into the trap of assuming. ABC in this case means "Always Be Curious". Curiosity usually leads to connection where assumption can lead to miscommunication and conflict.
There you go!
3 quick tips to help you have better communication starting today!
I have tried all 3 myself and with hundreds of couples, and they all work amazingly well.
Now, go forth and implement!
If you want even more communication tips and techniques, you can always check out my online course here.
Christie Sears Thompson
Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist
The Partnerhood (www.thepartnerhood.com)
Trade Winds Therapy & Relationship Coaching (www.tradewindstherapy.com)