I asked Dayspring counselor Amy Thomas to give us some information about how individuals can improve their communication. She offers the following as a way for all of us to improve our communication with others.
Communication is something that we all do every day in many ways. We communicate with our family, our friends, our coworkers, people at the grocery store, the list is endless. But do we really stop and think about how well we are communicating and if we can improve it?
Problems can arise in relationships when there is a breakdown of any kind in communication. One of the main reasons couples divorce, or break up if they aren’t married, is because of poor communication. Here are some tips on how to make communication more effective.
- Don’t Interrupt – Let your partner finish what they are saying. Being interrupted can make a person feel like what they are saying isn’t important and is a barrier to addressing an issue.
- Keep an Open Mind – Jumping to conclusions or looking for the “right” or “wrong” in what is being said prevents you from listening. Think about what you are going to say before you say anything in response, especially if it is an emotional reaction.
- Make Listening a Priority – Listen without planning what you are going to say next. Let go of your own agenda. Make eye contact and truly pay attention to what your partner is saying.
- Use Feedback – Let your partner know what you heard them say by restating what was said. You can say something like, “I hear you saying…..” Also be open to the possibility that you didn’t hear clearly and allow them to correct you if necessary.
- Be Aware of Body Language – Watch for non-verbal cues from your partner and be aware of your own body language. These include: tone of voice, facial expressions, eye contact or lack thereof, crossing arms, rolling eyes, etc. It’s not always what you say, but how you say it.
- Stay Focused – Focus on the main points your spouse is talking about. Try not to get side tracked on hot button issues that will lead to arguments or rabbit trails that will distract from the main issue. “Oh yeah will I remember last year when YOU did_____!” Bringing up the past will often only lead to arguments and not solve the issue at hand.
- Always Show Respect – Respect your partner’s point of view, even if you disagree. If you can’t reach an agreement, agree to disagree. Don’t let anger get the best of you and resort to name calling, yelling or other disrespectful behavior.