Not to put too fine a point on it but, if you suck at relationships it’s most likely because you suck at interpersonal communication.
Of course, all of us have differing skill sets, the things at which we excel. For some, that is communicating well with others. For some, not so much. The good news is, just about anything can be learned and the ability to communicate well with others is one of the skills that you can improve.
It should not have to be said, but does, that effective communication is an important life skill that enables you to better understand and connect with the people around you. It enables you to build respect and trust, resolve differences, and foster environments where problem solving, caring, affection, and creative ideas can thrive.
Why You Suck at Communication
Most people who suck at communication focus on what they should, or want, to say. Yet, effective communication is less about talking and more about listening. Listening well means not just understanding the words or the information being communicated, but also understanding the emotions the speaker is trying to communicate.
Of course, this requires respect for the opinion of the speaker on the part of the listener. Rather than the need to oppose or be right, the listener must be willing to learn alternative opinions, and accept them from the speaker’s perspective. Only then can an opposing view be shared with the hope that it will be accepted by both parties.
With a nod and thanks to the folks at LoveIsRespect.org, here are six tips for better communication:
- Find the Right Time: If something is bothering you and you would like to have a conversation about it, it can be helpful to find the right time to talk. Try to find a time when both you and your partner are calm and not distracted, stressed or in a rush. You might even consider scheduling a time to talk if one or both of you is really busy!
- Talk Face to Face: Avoid talking about serious matters or issues in writing. Text messages, letters and emails can be misinterpreted. Talk in person so there aren’t any unnecessary miscommunications. If you’re having trouble collecting your thoughts, consider writing them down ahead of time and reading them out loud to your partner.
- Do Not Attack: Even when we mean well, we can sometimes come across as harsh because of our word choice. Using “you” can sound like you’re attacking, which will make your partner defensive and less receptive to your message. Instead, try using “I” or “we.” For example, say “I feel like we haven’t been as close lately” instead of “You have been distant with me.”
- Be Honest: Agree to be honest. Sometimes the truth hurts, but it’s the key to a healthy relationship. Admit that you aren’t always perfect and apologize when you make a mistake instead of making excuses. You will feel better and it will help strengthen your relationship.
- Check Your Body Language: Let your partner know you’re really listening by giving them your full attention: sit up, face them, and make eye contact when speaking. Don’t take a phone call, text or play a video game when you’re talking. Show your partner you respect them by listening and responding.
- Use the 48 Hour Rule: If your partner does something that makes you angry, you need to tell them about it. But you don’t have to do so right away. If you’re still hurt 48 hours later, say something. If not, consider forgetting about it. But remember your partner can’t read your mind. If you don’t speak up when you’re upset, there is no way for them to apologize or change. Once you do mention your hurt feelings and your partner sincerely apologies, let it go. Don’t bring up past issues if they’re not relevant.
While many of these steps will seem obvious to expert communicators, that is not true with those who struggle with healthy communication. They simply have not learned the steps required, for whatever reason, and need to practice.
If you struggle to communicate with your partner or with business associates, it’s time to admit that you suck at communication, in the hope that you will no longer suck at relationships.
What have you to ensure that you do not suck at relationships? Share your thoughts and experiences in the comments section below!