Whenever my boyfriend and I hangout with a new couple that hasn’t been together very long, we get asked the same question: “What is the secret to having a long-lasting relationship?” In reality there are many different areas that both people in the relationship have to accept and work on for any couple to have a chance at working out, but I always say that the main thing is communication. Every time I hear that answer come out of my mouth, I immediately regret how cheesy it sounds. Despite the cliché response, it couldn’t be more true! I’ve found that effective communication skills can help you in any relationship. This includes romantic, professional, friendly, or family relationships. Many times one person may not have any clue how the other person feels, despite their “obvious” hints. What might be obvious to some, may leave others completely oblivious. Here are my tips at mastering effective communication.
#1: Know When to Hold Something In vs. Share it Out Loud
This is tough, ESPECIALLY when it comes to communicating with your significant other. We’ve all gotten into arguments where we said something we could not take back. Usually, these kind of arguments are followed by feelings of guilt, embarrassment, and/or sadness. Nobody enjoys that, trust me! I usually try to stay away from saying volatile things that can cause this to happen, but sometimes it’s hard to hold back when someone has pushed one of your buttons. It’s near impossible to be rational with someone when they’re really angry, but calling them out on one of their flaws will definitely not put an end to it! Another time I would try to hold back from saying something is if it has little to no impact on your relationship, but will make the other person upset. What falls into that category? Well that’s up to you, but there are certain things that are beyond your control that might not be worth ever mentioning. Other than these two situations, I really do believe that honesty is the best policy. The more open and transparent you are with the other person, the better!
#2: Keep in Mind How You Word Things
The name of the game is not to blame! I have mentioned before that I took an interpersonal communication class in college. You can read about how I found out my spirit animal there in this blog post. In this same class, I learned one of the most important aspects of proper communication! What was it? To take accountability for your own feelings. Instead of saying, “You make me mad when you…”, change it to, “I feel angry when you…”. Believe it or not, something as trivial as rewording your argument can have a huge impact on the outcome of the said conflict. The other person might start to realize the impact that their actions have on you versus getting defensive and verbally fighting back. At first I didn’t believe it would work, but I’ve tried using this in many aspects of my life and it has made a huge impact. By taking accountability, you are making yourself appear as more vulnerable instead of stubborn.
#3. Don’t Let Issues Fester
As I’m sure you know, the longer you wait to solve a disagreement, the harder it is to forgive and forget. Words that originally meant nothing start to weigh heavily on your brain. You essentially end up creating a mountain out of a molehill, whether you mean to or not. Even though it can be hard to back down and admit when you’re wrong, it’s better to squash an argument before the day is over. Of course, this isn’t always possible, but if you can’t solve it that day, then try to solve it the first thing the next day. The best apologies result from both parties admitting where they were wrong. You can’t control what the other person is going to say or do, but they’ll probably be more willing to admit their mistakes if you admit yours as well.
Effective communication skills take time to perfect. I hope these tips help you as much as they’ve helped me. It may not be easy to properly convey how you feel, but it’s a lot less painful than holding it in!
Infographic of the Week:
Question of the Week:
How do you typically solve an argument?