For some couples, problems in communication are the toughest issues they face. The simple act of communication becomes a minefield, with couples either in full battle or treading on eggshells. Communication becomes a problem when what is said or how it is said triggers our emotions in a negative way.
When you and your partner have an important issue to discuss which you feel may raise the emotional temperature, there are some simple strategies you can use to make the chance of success greater.
- Agree to talk when the time is right – rather than when you are doing something (such as watching television).
- Make an appointment. This avoids ‘ambushing’ your partner and means they will be more receptive to what you have to say.
- Calm yourself and stay calm.
If you are speaking
- Stay with the issue. Avoid bringing in all the related (and unrelated!) issues that upset you.
- Say how it is for you. Talk about how you feel rather than criticising or blaming.
- Keep it simple.
If you are listening
- Put your point of view in the background
- Don’t interrupt
- Let your partner know you have heard and understood them (even if you don’t agree)
- Be prepared to hear things you don’t necessarily agree with
- If necessary, clarify what your partner has said
Remember – being a good listener is the best guarantee you will be listened to when you raise an issue.
Handled well, difficult conversations can be a positive experience. They can lead you to understand and appreciate each other’s point of view. We’re all different – celebrate that fact!