No matter how committed a couple are, how much they love each other, how much time, energy and devotion they put into their relationship or even how good their sex life is, if a couple doesn’t communicate well, their relationship won’t work smoothly, and they’ll find themselves being constantly frustrated. Here’s some really important tips to take on board to improve communication with your partner.
1. Be honest. Remember that you have to first be honest with yourself in order to be honest with someone else. Being honest is important because it contributes to knowing each other deeply in the long run, making communication easier and easier as time goes on. If you’re dishonest or untruthful, your partner won’t know where they stand and will doubt whether they can trust you.
2. Put your ego aside. Do what’s right for the relationship, not just what’s right for you. Although it’s really important to prioritise your needs in a relationship, it’s also important to know the difference between a need and a want. Despite relationships being very much about enabling the satisfaction of your wants, if the needs of your partner or even the needs of the actual relationship aren’t prioritised, it won’t work smoothly. Fight for what’s right, rather than fighting to be right.
3. Adopt a “Can Do” attitude, acknowledging that there’s a solution to every challenge that satisfies all parties. When you and your partner face a challenge, always remember that you’re a team. If you have a ‘can do’ attitude, you will find that even if the first solution you come up with fails, you will try other solutions until you find the right one, rather than giving up.
4. Listen to your partner. Hear what they’re telling you about their needs. Even if you can’t relate, or understand their needs, it’s so important to acknowledge and respect them and if it’s in your power, to satisfy them. After all, that’s what love is.
5. Be curious and fascinated by your partner in order to get to know them. The more you know your partner, the better your communication will be because you’ll be able to speak to them in their own language. The more you know about your partner, the more there is to love, too!
6. Be empathetic. See life through their eyes so that you can understand them better. It might be a good idea to re-read some of the blogs on Love Languages and Core Needs in order to see their perspective more clearly. Know your partner’s beliefs and values also.
7. Trust your partner is doing the best that they can, are doing the best they know how to and are committed to creating a stronger relationship with you. After all, isn’t that what you’re doing?
8. Express yourself. Be clear with your partner about how you feel rather than assuming that they should understand you. Many people assume that their partner should just psychically understand or know them, it’s a very romantic notion. But the truth is, they often have to be told, so tell them.
9. Develop common goals. Developing common goals gives you the opportunity as a couple to work together as a team and practise your communication skills. Goals could be in the areas of parenting, house maintenance or renovation, lifestyle or travel.
In a recent post we talked about Behavioural Orientation, which explores the four poles of behaviour, defining them as Outcome (high energy, task focussed), Social (high energy, people focussed), Peace (low energy, people focussed) and Quality (low energy, task focussed). I encourage you to have another look at it and recall which behaviour you think you and your partner use most often. Then, use the tips below to improve communication with your partner.
Communicating with Outcome Oriented Behaviourists
- Get their attention before talking to them as they’re so focussed on whatever they’re doing it’s the only way to ensure they hear you
- Give them freedom and trust them
- Understand they’re not great at time management and support them with reminders
- Be direct with them, no need to pussy foot!
- Support and encourage their ideas
- To encourage them say “That’s perfect, you’re the best”
- To rattle them say “That’s wrong”
Communicating with Socially Oriented Behaviourists
- Encourage them in the pursuit of a variety of activities in their lives
- To encourage them say “That’s great, ‘so and so’ would be impressed”
- If you want them to take you seriously “’So and so’ would be disappointed”
Communicating with Peace Oriented Behaviourists
- If moving house or school or any other change, even if it’s positive change,give them as much notice as you can so they have time to adjust before it occurs, to avoid overwhelm. Support them through sudden change.
- Use soft rather than aggressive tones to communicate. This will be enough to elicit change, as they are eager to assist.
- Support their routine
- To motivate them, say “Thank you, you are so helpful. I can always count on you”
- To break their heart, say “You’ve really let me down”. (An Outcome behaviour would think ‘so what?’ if you said that to them)
Communicating with Quality Oriented Behaviourists
- Provide them with a lot of detail when issuing instructions and ensure the steps are consecutively ordered
- Be direct, they’re not great at reading between the lines
- When reasoning with them, use logic and evidence rather than feelings
Things to give thought to this week:
· What are the main topics or themes that you and your partner aren’t great at communicating about? What tools can you implement in these areas to improve communication?
· Which behaviour is your partner’s preference? How will you communicate with them differently now?
· Spend some time with your partner discussing and designing some goals that you can work on together. Make a commitment to one another to use the exercise your communication skills.