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Practicing effective communication in relationships

Active listening is the key to effective communication.
Active listening is the key to effective communication.
2008/ Ky

Effective communication is a skill requiring practice. While some are natural communicators, others struggle with productively getting their point across. Unfortunately, this inability causes havoc at work, with family, and within intimate relationships. Incorporating the following actions will improve communication prowess and help with complex situations.

People often shut down when screaming is involved. Learn how to control your emotions.
2011/ Anita Ritenour

Active Listening

The first step of effective communication is active listening and it is just as the label describes. Hearing is a passive state where a person has no choice if their ears are functioning properly. Listening requires usage of all senses and full attention to the other person. A person should remain nonjudgmental and not interrupt during small pockets of silence. Give the other person ample time to explain their feelings and avoid frustration.

Avoid defense mechanisms

Coming across as defensive usually causes the conversation to switch from productive to a waste of time. These are emotional actions to prevent admitting responsibility or experiencing feelings of failure. Often the "the best defense is a good offense" tactic is used to waylay the conversation. Defense mechanisms incite harsh responses and the point of effective communication is to resolve the issue or at least develop an understanding for each other’s feelings.

Be honest

Dishonesty is one of the main causes of relationship failure and/or reluctance to enter in to a commitment. To avoid conflict or confrontations, people tend to gloss over truths. We often hide genuine concern to protect another's feelings, believing the assumption they may react as you would. Hiding feelings is a developed habit and it is common to pursue relationships with those who do the same. However, constantly living in a bubble of lies prevents every form of intimacy and is a detriment to a budding or lengthy connection.

Be respectful

The lack of respect during a conversation also intensifies simmering emotions and causes it to quickly deteriorate. Pay attention to the tone of your voice and avoid giving your partner a lecture about their wrongdoings. Instead of harsh accusations, focus on how their actions made you feel. Even though curse words display the anger boiling inside, remember this person supposedly holds a special place in your heart. Don’t say something you will regret and leave the name calling to children.

Step away if necessary

No one is perfect and when anger enters the discussion sometimes a cooldown is required. Emotions tend to fester and can explode causing far-reaching damage to a relationship. Walk to another room for a few minutes, take some deep breaths, and come back. On the other hand, this shouldn’t be used as a prevention to leave the situation unresolved. The only way to move forward is to talk through your feelings and if possible, come to a mutual agreement.

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