Impaired or troubled communication is definitely one of the most common reasons couples end up in a therapist’s office.
Good communication is like glue. It plays a large part keeping relationships intact and holding strong. On the other hand, poor communication leads to conflict, often acting as a solvent to cause relationships to separate or dissolve.
The happiest couples are the ones who are emotionally open and not afraid of being vulnerable with each other. It’s not always easy to talk about sensitive subjects that elicit fears and insecurities. With rejection or criticism expected or looming, certain important topics can go unspoken for years or become communicated in indirect, obtuse ways.
Couples without good communication can become disengaged and will often seek out “safe people” for discussing their concerns, rather than their partner. Or, they might opt to keep feelings bottled inside while needs remain unmet. Depression and other negative emotional states can easily take over.
The following are seven mistakes individuals often make when communicating with their significant other:
- Not listening to what the other is saying
- Formulating a response too quickly without getting sufficient information
- Using words or phrases that the other does not understand
- Displaying inappropriate vocal gestures, such as tone, pitch and facial expression
- Unfriendly body language (arms folded over chest)
- Poor timing for a serious discussion
- Failure to ensure the other person understands your message
Now, here’s how to overcome communication mistakes:
- Clearly state your point or opinion.
- Deliver your message in a loving manner.
- Be open to answering questions.
- Choose an appropriate time to dialogue.
- Use common words and phrases your partner understands or explain your meaning clearly.
- Show open body language.
- Allow your partner time to respond; wait patiently for an answer.
Being aware of impaired communication is the first step to better communication. When you find you’re in the throes of communicating badly, such as a screaming match with your partner, ask for help from him or her, or take a time-out rather than say things that might later cause more conflict or hurt feelings. Your words are like an e-mail – once you hit the send button, it is done.