How to Improve Your Relationship through Healthy Communication
Relationship as the word implies is defined to a large extent by how we relate in friendship, courtship, marriage or whatever form of relationship we find ourselves. To relate entails a form of communication, hence communication is essential to the growth of any relationship. Open, honest and timely communication is part of a healthy relationship.
There are different methods of communication. We sometimes unintentionally send wrong or conflicting messages to those we relate with out of ignorance or negligence. Other times, it could be that the recipient simply did not decode our messages rightly due to their individual differences. When you are equipped with the skills and knowledge of the different communication types and styles, you can relate better with people in your relationships.
Broadly speaking, communication can be visual, verbal or nonverbal. Visual communication makes use of visual aids such as pictures, signs, drawings, colour and other electronic resources to convey messages. Verbal communication involves the use of words to deliver the intended message. The message can either be presented in a written style or delivered through spoken words. Nonverbal communication on the other hand, involves communicating by sending wordless messages. The message signal in nonverbal communication usually reinforces verbal communication but can also convey thoughts and feelings of their own.
Appearance and body language, including facial expression, eye contact, body posture, touch, tone of voice, gestures and overall body movement are some of the styles of nonverbal communication. Also, the way you say something rather than the actual message, is an important aspect of nonverbal communication. Examples of this include emotion, intonation, voice quality, pitch, stress and interest or lack of interest.
What is the message?
In communicating messages to those we relate with, we usually employ two or more of the above communication types or styles, sometimes unknowingly. How we go about using the communication forms determines how the message is received. You can have a well intended message communicated verbally in a clear voice but your tone or facial expression sends the wrongs message across and fuel an argument that you think is unnecessary.
For example, there is a face generally expected of you when you are rejoicing and a different one when you are sympathizing. But this isn’t the case for everyone. I have a friend whose sympathy had severally been taken by those don’t know him well to be insincere simply because his face expresses happiness all the time. The feeling in his heart simply doesn’t tally with the expression on his face when he sympathizes.
You should understand the people you relate with and be able to interpret message signals from them relative to their individual differences. Failure to consider this can result in constant misunderstanding in a relationship. Does your partner say something when they truly mean something else? Misunderstanding caused by poor communication only reinforces poor communication and can fuel anger and give rise to blame games, quarreling or even fighting.
During a communication process, the message then is not really what is intended but what is received. Of what use is a message if it isn’t received as intended? When you communicate, get feedback and ensure that your message is rightly received. If there is any need for clarification, provide one. Communicating can get a little tougher when you have an argument or a quarrel. The following tips would help you communicate better in such situations for a healthier relationship.
#1 Let the timing be right
It is said that NOW is the right time but I don’t believe this is always true in relationships. There is such thing as the best time. If you have something bothering you that you would like to discuss with your partner, look for a time where you both are calm, not distracted, stressed or in a rush. You could even consider scheduling the time to talk if the moment is not right for the discussion.
#2 Talk face to face
A lot of us make the mistake of talking about serious relationship issues in writing. To avoid unnecessary miscommunication it is better to talk about certain issues in person. I strongly forbid explaining your feeling after a quarrel in writing. Text message, chat and other forms of written communication takes away the closeness, emotions, and other nonverbal expressions that can make for easy resolution of the issue.
#3 Do not attack
Some people may shy away from presenting their views in person because they feel they can be easily provoked thereby only worsening the issue. Provocation during communication can be as a result of the manner and approach deployed in relaying the message. Do well not to attack your partner; you can make headway this way. Guard against attack through silence. Don’t throw subtle blames or hurry to take a defensive side, avoid the use of command language at all cost. Using words like “I” or “We” would yield better result than “You”. For example, instead of saying “you should have called me” you could say “I expected your call”. Your partner would be more receptive of the later.
#4 Be honest
Sometimes the truth hurts but it is the key to a healthy relationship. Adopt the virtuous habit of being honest to your partner and you are sure on the way to building a relationship of trust and confidence. Admit that you are not always perfect and apologize for your shortcomings instead of trying to create excuses or justifying yourself by pointing out what you think is the other person’s misdoing.
#5 Check your body language
Watch your language, especially your body language. Show your partner that you are fully into the conversation and can’t wait for the issue to be resolved. Listen and respond. If you are sitting, do it in a manner that shows serious interest and attention. Show your partner respect, do not take phone calls or reply text messages until the conversation is over. In fact, put your phone away totally.
#6 Do not delay
One mistake most people make in relationship is prolonging problems or their resolution. Do not waste time in creating a platform for resolving problems with your partner. People often recommend the 48 hours rule but I personally feel 48 hours is too long a time to leave your relationship problems unattended to. I would say you shouldn’t go a night without fixing issues between you. It should take you at worse, 24 hours to clear things up. Even if you are certain that your partner is at fault, be humble enough to initiate the conversation. You will earn their respect for doing so. Do not expect them to start the dialogue because you feel they are wrong.
I hope you fine these tips helpful.