Most long-term couples will tell you that one of the most important parts of a successful relationship is communication.
This may seem like a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised how many people struggle with healthy communication. YourTango.com conducted a survey of mental health professionals, who reported that the cause of divorce in 65% of couples was poor communication. That’s pretty compelling evidence that proper communication is a vital part of keeping your relationship strong and healthy.
So how can you learn to communicate better with your partner? Implementing these best practices for better communication is a great place to start.
When implementing good communication habits, eliminating distractions should be priority number 1. Nobody likes trying to have a conversation while the other person is constantly checking their email or scrolling through Facebook.
When talking with your partner, put your devices away and give them your undivided attention. Whether you’re discussing something simple or something serious, making the conscious decision to eliminate any potential distractions tells your partner that they are your priority.
Stashing the tech also ensures that you are truly listening. When it’s your turn to talk, your partner can give you their full attention and help you feel heard.
Pick Up On Non-Verbal Cues
During a conversation or argument, what a person is saying only tells a piece of what’s going on in their head. You can read between the lines by learning to pick up on non-verbal cues.
Non-verbal clues can include facial expressions, eye contact, body movement and posture, and touch. If your partner is saying everything is fine but their facial expression and posture suggests otherwise, take some time to sit down and talk to them about what’s on their mind.
Expressing empathy is one of the best ways to create a strong bond and build trust. When there’s trust between partners, communication tends to become easier. When your partner has a bad day at work, set aside some time to sit and talk to them about it. Don’t try and solve their problem, because often there is no solution. Instead, express empathy by saying things like, “It sounds like that really upset you,” or “Gosh, it must have been hard to receive feedback like that. Do you want to talk more about it?”
A little bit of empathy will go a long way toward creating strong, healthy bonds and open up lines of communication.
This is a tough one, but it goes hand-in-hand with empathetic listening. To suspend judgment means to listen and strive to understand what your partner is saying; to see things from their point of view. This is especially difficult during an argument. It’s tempting to argue and become defensive, but this can often shut down communication completely… and that’s definitely the opposite of healthy communication.
Instead, you can work on your judgment suspending skills by:
- Keeping an open mind
- Writing down objections or rebuttals instead of just blurting them out
- Finding common ground whenever possible
Work on this one together as a couple, and never be afraid to enlist the help of a couples therapist. Your relationship doesn’t have to be on the rocks to benefit from seeing a counselor — they might even be able to help you improve your communication skills.