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6 Communication Tips That Will Improve Your Relationship

Por: Andrea Mejía 13 de septiembre de 2017

One of the most common plot devices used to create tension in relationships in TV shows, films, and literature is poor communication skills. Take for instance the classic story of star-crossed lovers, Romeo and Juliet. I’m sure we’re all well acquainted with the plot: a boy and a girl belonging to feuding families fall in love, but a series of conflicts, most of them death-related, makes them decide to flee and try to live happily ever after somewhere else. And here is where everything falls apart. It's all incredibly annoying because all the conflict could have been easily avoided if the lovers and Friar Laurence, who was helping them escape, had told each other what they were up to: the monk could have just told Romeo that Juliet would fake her death to escape with him, and Romeo, in turn, could’ve just thought things through a little and maybe should have visited Friar Laurence to ask for more information about what happened, instead of rushing to his local drugstore to buy poison. But, let’s be honest, where’s the drama in that?


In fiction, lack of communication creates the necessary chaos for the plot to advance. However, it’s not nice to have that kind of drama in real life, don’t you think? Especially when it comes to being with your partner. So, please, don’t make Romeo and Juliet your relationship goals and avoid unnecessary problems by following these simple tips. You’ll see how many arguments and possible conflicts can be avoided by just improving the communication skills between the two of you. The best part: you can apply these tips to any kind of relationship you have.

1. Listen

As simple as this may sound, listening is actually one of the most important and difficult steps to improve communication, not only with your partner but with others as well. According to John M. Grohol Psy.D., listening to your partner is difficult, especially at the very moment the conflict is happening, because you want to be heard, so the most common reaction is interrupting the other person or even shouting your argument. However, you need to think about how it’s likely that your partner is feeling the same way, so it’ll turn into a competition of who can scream the loudest. Make an effort and listen to them. They’ll appreciate that, and actually, by listening to them, you’ll be able to find out exactly what is bothering them, or you'll find a way to make them understand that they’re doing something that bothers you.


2. Be honest

This is not necessarily a tip for when you're arguing, but for the relationship in general. As far as I know, we haven’t developed the ability to read other people’s minds, so hiding your emotions won’t help anyone. If they're doing something you don’t like, tell them, always being respectful, of course. Maybe there's something you really like to do during sex or something you’ve always wanted to try. Don’t be afraid to tell them, and maybe it’ll even spice things up a little. The worst you can do is to bottle up your emotions and not say what's on your mind because, eventually, those things will come out, and maybe not in the best way or at the best time.

3. Sometimes body language says more than words

I’m sure you’re familiar with the typical “I’m fine” that means they're not fine. My advice here would be to listen to your gut. If you feel like things are not okay, it’s probably because they’re not. Maybe they’re keeping something to themselves for some reason (and in case you’re the kind of person who does this, take a look again at point number 2), but unless they’re good actors, their discomfort will be reflected on their body in some way. Maybe they’ll cross their arms, avoid looking at you, or speak in a different tone, most likely louder. You could insist one or two times to see if maybe your partner will open up, but if their answer is the same, don’t force them to tell you why they’re feeling bad. Give them some time. Maybe they need to cool their head or be alone before telling you what’s bothering them. No matter what is going on, they’ll appreciate the fact that you showed interest and cared about their feelings.


4. Don’t make assumptions

Here we can take our friend Romeo as the best example. He heard Juliet was dead and immediately assumed that it was true. Maybe if he had waited a couple of minutes, he would have gotten Friar Laurence’s letter telling him about the plot to fake his sweetheart’s death, or he would have met him at the Capulet’s grave. But going back to real life, it’s best to live as a skeptic, not only when it comes to relationships, but in most aspects of your life. By this I mean that you shouldn't let yourself be led by what you see or hear, but rather question things and look for the truth on your own. Moreover, don’t assume your partner knows everything about you or will know everything you want or need. Again, people can’t read minds. If you’re not sure your partner has understood or knows something you want them to know, just tell them.


5. Keep a cool head when arguing

This is related to the last point as well. Maybe you see something that makes you think your partner is cheating on you, or you’re furious with them for something they did. As I said, bottling up your emotions won’t help at all, but shouting and ranting won’t help either; it could actually make things worse. Emotions have no morals or logic, so they’re not the best allies when you’re arguing. Take a break, walk, scream into a pillow, or sing an emotional song out loud. Do whatever makes you feel better and helps you relax. Once you’re calm, you’ll be able to see the facts more clearly and talk to your partner without it turning into a screaming competition, which takes us to the last point.


6. You’re talking, not competing

You want to solve things with your partner, right? That should be your main goal, not “winning” the argument. Psychologist John M. Grohol claims that this mindset comes from the fact that during most arguments, each side tends to believe they’re “right,” but actually both should cede to a certain degree. Besides, let’s say you “win” the argument. What then? Did that make your relationship better? Are you happier? Or is it just a temporary relief that’ll vanish as soon as you argue with your partner again and you try to prove you’re right?


Above all, remember that respecting each other is essential. Don’t let arguments or communication issues hurt your relationship. Instead, let them be challenges to strengthen it.

Images by India Earl

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