Ten Communication Skills
The world is filled with married couples who have poor communication skills.
Their dialog regularly includes yelling, snide comments, sarcasm, berating, and an obvious lack of respect for their spouse. Their ability to communicate is so poor, that over the years, their “conversations” have become toxically antagonistic. They have no desire to talk to each other anymore.
These couples are funny when seen on TV sitcoms. But would you want your marriage deteriorating to this level? I think not.
Effective communication, understanding, and empathy, form the foundation that solid marriages are built upon. Yet divorce statistics prove that most of us aren’t very good at it.
By learning these communication skills and putting them into practice, your marriage will become stronger, richer, and more fulfilling. And you’ll avoid becoming a cranky old person who regularly turns up the TV in order to drown out his spouse’s voice.
Ten Communication Skills
- Value openness with your partner.
Keep your relationship open and honest. Agree that feelings should be expressed, ideas should be shared, and nothing should be held back. If you can’t share your thoughts and feelings with your spouse, then who should you share them with?
- Be assertive and take responsibility for your feelings.
You may think your partner knows what you want, need, and feel. That’s usually not the case. Don’t be afraid to share your needs, thoughts, and desires with your partner. It’s more than likely your partner wants to hear what you have to say.
- Maintain a positive and constructive attitude.
You may be having a terrible day. The baby’s sick, you got a parking ticket, and the dog crapped in your new shoes. You may feel like tearing the head off of the first person unlucky enough to cross your path. But this negative and destructive attitude is not conducive to effective communication.
Any conversation you have with your spouse will likely result in your spouse “catching” your attitude due to emotional contagion, or transference of emotion. This proven psychological and physiological process simply states, if you’re forced to interact with someone who’s angry, you will likely become angry. If you’re speaking to someone who’s happy, that happiness will likely rub off on you too.
You still have a choice as to what attitude you put forth. And since you have a choice, you’re better off choosing to react in a positive way than in a negative way. If your attitude sucks, even the best communication skills will be ineffective.
- Use an appropriate voice.
Make sure your volume is correct. No mumbling and avoid yelling. Vary your pitch so as not to sound monotone. But avoid shrieks, shrills, and whining. This could be irritating to your partner and counterproductive.
- Make sure your body language matches your verbal language.Statistics suggest that over 70% of what we communicate to our spouses is sent non-verbally. It’s often not what you say, but how you say it.
Do you fidget or thumb through the newspaper during an important conversation? Are you flipping through TV channels on your remote control, while expressing your unwavering love and devotion to your mate? If so, you’re sending mixed messages.
Facial expressions, head shaking, rolling eyes, even crossed arms or legs – they all send negative messages. In order to keep your discussions productive, avoid these negative, mixed messages.
- Avoid verbal abuse.
Refrain from insults, put-downs, and expressions of distain or disgust. Avoid generalizations and stereotypes. Saying them won’t make you feel any better. Such statements are hurtful to your spouse, and cause resentment, increased hostility, and damage your relationship.
- Learn to respond rather than react.
Responding means an automatic, knee-jerk reaction to something that your partner has said or done. This initial response is probably not going to be the best response. It’s likely to result in you saying or doing something you’ll regret.
Instead, learn to regulate your emotions. To effectively use your communication skills, you’ll need a cool head. Take a moment to reflect. Take a deep breath and formulate a rational, constructive, and appropriate response to the situation.
- Choose your words carefully.
Your statements should be non-threatening and have a constructive spin. When voicing your feelings, complaints, or even criticism, use “I” statements such as:
“I would like…”
These are non-threatening statements that focus on your feelings. They express how you’ve been affected by your spouse’s behavior.
Instead of telling your spouse what you hate, state what you want! Try using statements such as:
“It would mean a lot to me if you…”
“I love it when you…”
Or, instead of telling your spouse to stop yelling, say, “I hear you.”
Avoid “You” statements that would put your spouse on the defensive or trigger hostility. “You” statements may start with:
“You make me feel…”
- Address your spouse’s behavior. Don’t attack your spouse’s character.
If your spouse has done something that hurt you, use statements such as, “It hurt me when you…” instead of, “You insensitive jerk! How could you…”
Once you’ve pointed out how a particular act or behavior has made you feel, express what you would like to see change. Then offer a suggestion on how to resolve the issue.
- Don’t let anger, problems, or issues build up and boil over.
Don’t sweep problems under the rug, where they will fester and grow. Sharing your thoughts as well as your problems is healthy to every marriage. Doing so will deepen and strengthen your relationship.
Exercise your communication skills by talking with your spouse for thirty minutes every day. Talk about your day, your feelings, or the problems or issues du jour. Get things off your chest and use the time to bond.
Study these communication skills with your partner. Practice them and implement them. You’ll find your arguments less hostile and outcomes more productive. You’ll find that these communication skills will strengthen your relationship and make your lives together happier and more harmonious.
Want to learn more about communication skills? Click back to The Importance of Communication. There you will find more pages on communication skills, listening skills, even communicating to improve your love life!
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