Effective communication is one of the key pillars to a happy, understanding, compassionate and passionate relationship. In episode 3 of the Transform Relationships Podcast, Diane talks about exactly why this is the case.
1st Pillar Effective Communication in Relationships
The most important skill of all relationships – sharing tips & skills that have benefited many couples.
I will talk about the process to communicate effectively the different skills required for communication and the benefits of communicating effectively
A CREDO FOR MY RELATIONSHIPS WITH OTHERS
You and I are in a relationship which I value and want to keep. Yet each of us is a separate person with our own unique values and needs and the right to meet those needs.
So that we will better know and understand what each of us values and needs, let us always be open and honest in our communication.
When you are having problems meeting your needs, I will listen with genuine acceptance and understanding so as to facilitate your finding your own solutions instead of depending on mine. And I want you to be a listener for me when I need to find solutions to my problems.
At those times when your behavior interferes with what I must do to get my own needs met, I will tell you openly and honestly how your behavior affects me, trusting that you respect my needs and feelings enough to try to change the behavior that is unacceptable to me. Also, when some behavior of mine is unacceptable to you, I hope you will tell me openly and honestly so I can try to change my behavior.
And when we experience conflicts in our relationship, let us agree to resolve each conflict without either of us resorting to the use of power to win at the expense of the other’s losing. I respect your needs, but I also must respect my own. So let us always strive to search for a solution that will be acceptable to both of us. Your needs will be met, and so will mine—neither will lose, both will win.
In this way, you can continue to develop as a person through satisfying your needs, and so can I. Thus, ours can be a healthy relationship in which both of us can strive to become what we are capable of being. And we can continue to relate to each other with mutual respect, love and peace.
– Dr. Thomas Gordon
This Pillar I have placed 1st because not knowing how to communicate effectively makes it difficult to implement numbers 2-5. Learning how to communicate in this way
can be like learning a new language, it takes practice to make progress, I am supporting my clients at each step working at their pace.
Being an Effective Communicator Provides Couples with
- Active listening – reflecting back what you hear and acknowledging your partner
- I _ messages – talking about yourself – I feel, I would like
- Be concrete and clear in your delivery
- Show empathy
- Non-verbal communication
The communication process:
1. Starts with the person who needs to deliver a message. Firstly Understand clearly what you want to say, give some thought to what is it that you are feeling and what you need. Drop into your body. What are you feeling. Name it for example sadness. When you are clear your message will be clear, if you not clear you may become frustrated as you are already uncertain. Then this will make your partner hear an unclear message so needs will not be met, you cannot be acknowledged. Take some time with yourself first.
Imagine saying to your partner “I am unhappy,” and he will say “Why” You say I dont know I’m just unhappy with our relationship. As opposed to saying, I feel a little sad that we are not spending time together as much anymore, I really miss you, can we organise to have a day out just you and me. Now, this is clear, you’re sending a clear message of how you are feeling and what you need.
Now a lot of people could be feeling this way but without the correct communication skills, it can sound something like. You’re always busy. Your work is more important than I am. You dont care about me. These are fighting words and very unclear communication. It’s attacking the other. It’s using ‘you’ messages, not I messages. When using I message’s you are talking about how you feel and you can’t argue with that. But when you use “you” message the other feels attacked and feels like they need to defend themselves and this leaves both frustrated, disconnected, and sad
2. Choose the right time to have this conversation, never talk to your partner when the emotions are heightened because at this stage the rational side of the brain has shut down and the emotional brain is in operation this means that the person is in fight or flight, so nothing productive will be achieved at this stage.
3. When making the request to chat with your partner be mindful of your tone of voice. Your partner will be open to hearing what you are saying or they will shut down. “ Hey, sweety I have something to chat to you about is now a good time”? or let’s make a time for later. Doing it this way you are being respectful of your partner’s time, and you are not taking them by surprise. If you surprise them they may become defensive as they feel unprepared and the person who has the issue may be heightened as they have put off talking about the issue but now they are geared up for it. By agreeing to a discussion they are far more open to talking about and listening to what you need, as they have said yes, and it was done very respectfully.
4. Now deliver your message. Obviously for this process to run smoothly you both need to understand how to communicate effectively and a big part of that is how to hear and acknowledge the person who is delivering the message
5. Finally, come up with a solution that will suit you both. Such as the above example of missing the other have some fun being creative and sharing what you may both like to do. Or your partner may just say I’m sorry I didn’t realise you felt this way.
Benefits of Effective Communication
1. Less conflict
2. Find out more about your partner
3. Needs to be met easily
4. You feel lighter internally because you are able to share your needs and
opinions with less stress.
5. You feel more authentic within yourself
6. Creates connectedness with your partner
7. Builds trust and respect
8. Have the relationship you both desire
9. Creates higher self-esteem, self-worth
10.. Emotional intelligence grows as you are able to share feelings and emotions
11. And as parents you are passing on to your children and future generations
the gift of communication
Can you see how learning to communicate this way could change your relationship?
I talk a lot about responsibility, being in a functional relationship is hard work, and can be a very difficult time for some because there are so many emotions involved and so much at stake. But with dedication and hard work the payoff is amazing. And it can be a slow process. Remember we all learn at different levels some process information quickly and others need more time to process, remember to look at your partner through their lens and not look at them through yours, seeing how it is from their perspective.
Tips on being a Clearer Communicator
1. When your partner is talking to you be present with them, engage all of your senses to help you stay with them, look at their body language, how you think they are feeling, and listen to the words being used
2. Be aware of your own thoughts when your partner is sharing, even if it’s something you don’t agree with. Always listen and acknowledge them then you can have your say after them. I can see you are really upset with me for…. And I can see how you have come up with that thought, this is not my reality about what happened can I share with you my thoughts on the subject?
3. Don’t just say I understand how you are feeling… that is very unclear and your partner will not feel validated. Say I can see you seem frustrated about ….or you seem …..
4. And for all the men, you don’t need to fix anything, I will say that again you don’t need to fix anything, just be there, acknowledge the feelings and the facts and maybe ask if
there is anything I can do. I have some thoughts on that can I share them with you? If she says yes then share. If she says no then respect that.
As you can see it is a very different way of being with your partner and you will achieve a different relationship, this is one way relationships can transform from shut-down survival to a growing and flourishing happy relationship.
In my practice, I teach my clients all these skills I help to guide them every step of the way. There is no rush.
My next podcast will be Two of the Pillars
2. Understanding & Acceptance