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Relationship puzzle #3: Why can’t I get through?

Young couple arguing in their living roomIt’s fair to say that good communication is fundamental to a happy relationship. Some people think that communicating should come naturally when really, it’s a skill. Fortunately, it’s a skill that can be learned.

Speaking openly and respectfully is important and most people would say they are mindful of trying to communicate in as clear a manner as possible. But attending and listening is just as important. You know what happens when you haven’t paid attention and heard a message – an argument is bound to be the result. Sometimes people feel that they can’t get through. Their partners appear not to be listening. Maybe you think you’re communicating clearly but all you’re managing to do is confuse your listener, who stops listening.

How can you improve your communication?

Communication can be considered from both sides – the speaker and the listener. Let’s look at the speaker and see what guidelines they can observe to improve their chances of being understood.

Remember that when speaking:

Don’t just blurt out whatever comes into your head without any regard for the way you express it. Consider appropriateness and ‘time and place’ for your message. Are you saying what you want to say in a way that the listener will hear it? On the other hand, don’t close yourself off to your partner and have them guess what you’re thinking and feeling. Both bluntness and locking thoughts and feelings away from your partner can lead to strains in your relationship.

Make sure your communication accurately reflects the intensity of the feeling behind it. Don’t put a message mildly if you feel strongly about it. It just confuses your listener. A good deal of misunderstanding can occur if you don’t say exactly how you feel. For instance, if you feel really happy, say it in the strongest possible way – ‘You’ve made my day’ or ‘I’m over the moon’ or whatever your favourite expression might be. Don’t settle for a weak version of how you feel, go for the strong version!

Being specific is related to being direct and being clear. Generalised communications can be confusing and often a defence against coming out into the open and saying exactly what is meant. Generalised messages run the risk of not being understood, or worse still, being misunderstood. Remember that effective communication is not only the exchange of meaning, but also an exchange of feeling. For example, it’s better to say, ‘I was hurt by what you said’ – a specific statement – than a generalised one like ‘I was upset’.

By working on improving your communication style, you’ll ensure that misunderstandings will be kept to a minimum and that greater understanding will result. Good communication – speaking clearly, with the right emotional emphasis and being specific – can improve the quality of your relationship.

To read more about relationships see Heart’s Desire

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