Communication is the soul of a relationship it connects people when there is shared meaning. Communication is a way of expressing, feeling understood, and sharing pertinent information. Communication is the path towards trust and intimacy. Individuals bring their feelings, personalities, emotions, beliefs, history, and expectations to a relationship. As a result, many obstacles interfere such as communication style, level of skill, family of origin, core beliefs, emotional and cognitive functioning. Communication is a learned skill and everyone can improve with practice.
The first step in assertive communication is intent, interpersonal awareness, recognizing one’s own body symptoms, feelings, and thoughts before engaging with your partner. Expressions starting with “I statement’s” rather than defensive language or accusation, anger, and blame can shift many years’ negative communication patterns.
Secondly, know your partner’s worldview or at least try to utilize reflective listening, which is understanding your partner’s perspective before preparing your rebuttal. Reading between the lines- what is your partner really telling, asking, or sharing with you? Does the body language match what they are expressing? 80% – 90% of communication is non-verbal. Therefore, having open and inviting body language while actively listening is half the battle. Validate your partner’s position and feelings before moving towards problem resolution. Holding the relationship as the highest value rather than being right or having all the answers will reduce conflicts and resentment over time.
Finally, say what you mean– being honest with kindness will open the channels of communication for true understanding of one another and having needs met in a healthy way. Many clients have reported, “My wife always says she’s fine while stomping around the house and lashing out for unknown reasons. What can I do?” Well, I would directly validate your partner’s feelings and explore what is underneath the highly emotional state. Example: Honey, I know you say everything is fine but I’m noticing your frustration and I’m wondering if I have said or have done something to hurt or upset you?
Creating an emotionally safe space for your partner to communicate is the key. Should the conversation escalate towards anger, blaming, name calling, disengage until both partners are calm enough to have a conversation. Defensive language crushes intimacy. Remember your partner can’t read your mind, ask for what you want and need. Stay focused on the issue now not drudging up past issues. Working through this present issue successfully will give you both the confidence and skill to resolve past issues. For professional advice on ways to communicate more effectively contact my office at (314) 566-6160 or check out my website and schedule an appointment at nicholeoliver.com.