Communication is an excellent skill to have. It can help in all kinds of different areas of your life such as employment, parenting, and relationships. Some harbor the misconception that communicating in a relationship is different then in other areas of life. In actuality, it is pretty much the same. We are so close to people we love that they find it easier to push our buttons then a coworker would. Another misconception people have is that communicating with men is different than communicating with women. It is not that much different. Every good communicator should have the same basic skills. Some of the skills to use when talking to your partner, (or anyone else,) are listening skills, body language, and empathy.
Listening to someone is more complicated than it sounds. It’s easy to hear what a person says, but we really need to understand their intent. When you spend a lot of time with someone, what they say may go out one ear and out the other. When you ask your partner how their day was, which is a question you should ask to show you care, really listen to what your partner has to say. Perhaps they will simply say “fine,” but even then, they may change their posture, looks away, or say it in a tone of voice that indicates that their day actually sucked; or they may give you ques that the day wasn’t bad at all, with that one simple word. Listening includes paying attention to the ques our partner is giving us as well as the words they say.
Noticing body language is a way of listening. People make gestures when they are describing something important. You should make gestures when you are communicating something to your loved one too. We’re not talking about rude ones, we’re talking about talking with your hands to describe what you’re saying. The way you position yourself can indicate openness or express your feeling too. Crossed arms or hands on your hip might tell your partner you are angry. Arms apart or hands folded can say that you are listening. Make sure to notice your partner’s posture. Sometimes people can communicate with each other without saying a word. Notice your partner’s eyes when trying to communicate with them, often you will find clues to understanding their feelings in their eyes.
We want to understand how our partner is feeling in order to better communicate with them. This is called empathy. Always try to put yourself in your partners shoes. Perhaps you will feel they are not listening to you, but when you notice the look in their eyes or dejected body language, you may realize they are having a rough time and cut them some slack. In order to get your partner to understand how you feel, use phrases like “I feel…” instead of accusations like “you never….”. It is easy to fall into accusations when we spend a lot of time with someone and we think they are trying to annoy us on purpose. Chances are they aren’t, and you should look at things from a different perspective.
In order to communicate well, listen to what a person says and look for any indication about how they are actually feeling. When we pay attention to body language and eye contact we understand things better. Understanding what a person feels is empathy, and when someone knows you are emphasizing with them, they feel loved and cared about. Ultimately, expressing love will make things happy all around.