It should be no surprise that effective communication is a key element of successful and rewarding relationships. Our talking skills also serve us very well in the bedroom. It helps improve our sex lives and the level of intimacy we experience with our partner. Frustratingly, good communications skills can be hard to come by. Not everyone has them or understands why they are so important.
There is a whole industry of books and seminars and special classes all based on how to communicate properly and effectively in a wide variety of situations. Communication in relationships is not just important; it can mean the difference between a rewarding relationship and abuse. Being able to communicate effectively, openly, and honestly with your partner about your boundaries, concerns, emotions, and state of being can make or break a long-lasting connection, regardless of the type of relationship you have with the other person.
So What is Effective Communication?
When do we worry the most about having good communications skills? Typically when things are not going well and we have to talk through a difficult situation. If you establish a foundation of forthright speaking and open communication, you and your partner can often avoid problems before they become a real issue. It also helps both of you practice talking so when difficult situations do arise, you both will already feel more comfortable discussing it with each other.
Effective communication is not only about understanding the words and syntax of a statement but also understanding the emotion behind those words. Communication is a two-way street and is often considered successful when the sender, as well as the receiver, understand the same information. This is often much easier said than done.
Both people in the conversation need to be on the same page. You both need to be understanding the same message of the conversation. Effective communicators clarify with the other person to ensure that they both have a good grasp of the conversation. It keeps misunderstandings from deepening the conflict. It also ensures that both people can reach a compromise that satisfies them both.
Engaging in productive communication is also about more than just the verbal portion of the conversation but also the non-verbal cues. Every day we use our bodies to impart nuances of our mood and meaning to the conversation. Research has shown that there are some universal facial expressions that everyone recognizes cross-culturally. As children, we learn some of the basics of these cues as well as we begin to learn how to control our own. These aspects can serve to enhance an important exchange when used consciously and appropriately.
Difficult Conversations Need Good Communication
It is important to remember that just because a conversation has the potential to be sensitive does not mean it has to be or that it should be avoided. It is often these more difficult conversations that are the most crucial. Many people will avoid discussing things that they find uncomfortable. This is a pretty natural reaction. Who likes being in those uncomfortable situations?
Unfortunately, when we avoid conflicts this way, it can make issues bigger, create more problems, and lead to a snowball effect that ends relationships. People continue to let things that are bothering them slide until it builds up to a point where they can’t take it anymore. They reach the proverbial straw that breaks the camel’s back. Suddenly a fight isn’t about one thing but a long history or pattern of things. Fights like this can be really tough to resolve.
If we can encourage our partner to discuss these issues with us as they arise, there will be less of a chance of that level of resentment building up. It gives us a better chance of building a strong foundation for a healthy relationship.
Continue to Build Your Conversational Skills
We can always work to improve our conversational skills. There is plenty of information out there on how we can continue to develop our abilities and apply them to different situations. These skills are one of the keys and foundational ways to build rewarding, healthy, and fabulous relationships. Whether we develop professional relationships, close friendships, or romantic attachments there is no limit to how effective communication can benefit us!
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