Why is communication so hard? How's this for a "duh" statement:
Communication in relationships, any relationship, is paramount.
What grown-ass person doesn't know that, right? It's the over sung mantra of every two-bit relationship coach and amateur therapist on this big blue marble. It's also an insanely shallow bit of advice for disconnected couples everywhere.
Sure, we want lovers of all stripes to talk to one another. And to be fair, just getting anyone, but guys in particular, to open up and address issues whether subtle or overt, can be quite a chore. But the coaching generally ends there. Which leaves us with two people talking at each other.
It's simply not enough to just talk. As a matter of fact, where people need to turn their focus is on mastering the skill of messaging. This is the true key to effective communication. And mastering this skill will not only improve your give and take in romantic relationships, it will also enhance the efficacy of all your interpersonal communication.
You hear people in many a conflict say, "What I'm hearing you say is…." That's all about messaging. By using this very simple phrase, you give the other person the opportunity to certify their message and validate their feelings. It's a great tool.
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But what happens frequently is the other person will respond, "No, that's NOT what I'm saying!" And then you'll spend the next 3 hours arguing about the way you communicate; you said this, he said that, he offended you when he said this, you offended him when you said that…a litany of tangential arguments ensues and the ultimate outcome is two people rubbed emotionally raw and nothing resolved.
Now, nothing I say here is going to solve everyone's communication issues and I won't even pretend to be an expert on the matter, but I will offer a few tips that have helped me be a more effective "messager" and more receptive to your partner's messages.
REMIND YOURSELF THAT THAT YOU AND YOUR PARTNER ARE NOT THE SAME PERSON
Never will be. So there will be many occasions, especially in a new relationship, where misunderstandings and misinterpretations will occur. Before leaping to the most negative conclusion and launching into an argument, assume that your partner isn't trying to upset you and ask for confirmation or denial of whatever conclusion you've drawn. The best arguments are the ones you never have.
SHOW SOME EMPATHY
Put yourself in your partner's shoes. By understanding their background (and baggage)you develop a sense of why they feel the way they feel. This understanding opens up the opportunity to validate your partner's feelings by saying, "I understand why you feel that way. I understand why that would hurt or upset you, and I apologize." Sometimes, oftentimes, our partners just want to be heard and/or understood. I think this is one of guys' most common communication mistakes. Women want acknowledgement, guys want to prove their point - which makes men oblivious to the obvious - ladies want that emotional validation.
MOVE ON. TOGETHER
Once you reach a point where there's understanding, true understanding of one another's message, you have the liberty to simply disagree and move forward. "Honey, I understand. We just don't agree."
And partners must be willing to accept that they will not always agree. And this should NOT be taken as a personal affront. Sometimes folks simply disagree. And if you truly understand your partner, you understand why they see the world the way they see it and you understand how that world view informs their perspectives and opinions and feelings.
It all comes back to effectively conveying your message though. This must be the focus of your communication.
What tips and tricks have you tried with your partners that allow you to "get where they're coming from?"
Find me @smfmarcus.
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