â€œYou cannot shake hands with a clenched fist.â€
When Indira Gandhi, the former Prime Minister of India, said this, I think it was for more political reasons and for her peace advocacy. But I believe we can also take this as inspiration in communicating towards a successful relationship with a spouse or a boyfriend/girlfriend. I believe that a relationship canâ€™t succeed if hearts and minds are kept closed and unyielding.
While communication is not everything there is to a relationship, I think there wonâ€™t be any real relationship between two people, if they donâ€™t openly communicate and are always trying to assert themselves once they talk. Of course, I donâ€™t think that there is such a thing as a perfect relationship in terms of communication. But we can always do things to communicate better with each other. So, how do we do that? Here are some relationship communication realities that Iâ€™ve experienced and would like to share with you.
Are you listening?
Listening is one of the most overused words when someone talks about communicating effectively. Thereâ€™s a reason for this, though. Itâ€™s because it IS important. Listening, though, is more than just shutting up and letting the other person talk. It means knowing how the other person feels and seeing where he or she is coming from. It also means looking at his or her facial expressions and body language.
Try to look back at those times when youâ€™re discussing serious matters or simply trying to make a point with your partner. You may have appeared to stop talking just to let the other person speak, but your brainâ€™s still filled with what youâ€™ve just said or what youâ€™re going to say next. Iâ€™ve been guilty of this countless times. Iâ€™ve found it hard to stop, look and listen â€“ completely stop uttering and thinking about my point, try to look into the subject or the situation the way the other person sees it, and listen to everything that heâ€™s saying. Itâ€™s a tough one to practice, but definitely worth the effort.
I remember Iâ€™ve read about one communication technique suggested by psychologists and therapists where you restate what your partner has just said. It may not be a practice that appeals to many people, since youâ€™d look like a fool repeating what the other personâ€™s just said. I, for one, find it weird and havenâ€™t really used it knowing that itâ€™s a technique. But there have been instances when Iâ€™ve done it instinctively and without me knowing that itâ€™s used for communication therapy. Itâ€™s meant to help you stop chattering even inside your head and really listen to your partner. If you want to use this means, it would be good to let your partner know that youâ€™re doing that to help you digest what he or she just said. Otherwise, if you use this during an argument, your partner might decide to split from you just the same due to your insanity.
Emotions shouldnâ€™t go with discussions and decisions.
You shouldnâ€™t be content with just listening, too. You also need to speak up. Although, one thing you should keep in mind before uttering anything is to never say things and make decisions when youâ€™re overflowing with emotions, even with the most positive ones. But it is very difficult to do this since, especially with matters concerning relationships, discussions and decisions usually concern matters of the heart.
For instance, when youâ€™re talking about getting married, it usually involves two people who have deep feelings for each other. Both of you are happy. But you do have to take the time to talk about the significant things in life for you and your partner. You need to know which of these things you agree or disagree on. You need to be open about your views about lifeâ€™s realities.
Just the same, when youâ€™re grieving, angry, or devastated, serious discussions and big decisions have to be set aside as much as possible. Iâ€™ve learned that, most of the time, I end up with bad conclusions when I rush into emotionally charged conversations. I say things that are exaggerated and insane. Definitely wouldnâ€™t help at all in keeping a relationship.
One great relationship communication tip for everyone is to never stop. Particularly for those whoâ€™ve been in a relationship for quite some time, communication should always go on. Sometimes youâ€™d think that youâ€™re already so comfortable with each other, that you think you know each other. That you donâ€™t have to tell the other what you think and feel.
While this may be true in some cases, I think that itâ€™s quite dangerous in a relationship when you begin to assume the other personâ€™s feelings and thoughts and even predict what he or sheâ€™ll do or decide on. I think if you really pay attention to your partner, a lifetime wonâ€™t be enough for you to know everything there is to know about him or her. Itâ€™s also a reality that people do change their preferences and views after a few years or so. Some even change their minds in a matter of minutes.
Similarly, opening up to your partner about your thoughts, wishes, and everything else in your mind also helps a lot in your relationship. In my experience, speaking up has also helped us deal with many difficult situations. It has helped us become stronger and more considerate of each otherâ€™s feelings. It minimizes misunderstandings, most definitely.
Communication can be difficult to master, but it can also be an enjoyable, interesting and rewarding lesson. My husband and I donâ€™t strive for perfection in communicating, but we do want to be better at it everyday. And along the way, we think weâ€™re picking up some great benefits like having a closer relationship and becoming better individuals.