Basics of good communication
We’re not born with the talking and listening skills we need to be good at communication. But we can all develop skills to help us understand our loved ones properly and make sure they understand what we really mean. Communication is bound to go wrong sometimes, but we can get better at it with practice.
Talking–Listening = Zero
Communication is a two-way street: listening is just as important as talking. And when you listen, you should really listen so you can really understand what the other person is saying. So don’t interrupt. Look them in the eyes. And don’t just think about what you want to say next.
Using “I” statements
If you have a disagreement with your partner, it’s best to express your own opinions and feelings. If you say how you feel about something, or how something the other person did affected you, it’s harder for them to brush it aside. After all, no one can argue about how you’re feeling, because only you know that.
For example, say:
“I felt really hurt when you went to the cinema without asking me to join you.’
‘It made me sad when I saw you with your arm around that girl/guy at that party.’
There’s no arguing with this. Your partner can’t say, ‘No, you didn’t feel hurt.’
Compare this to saying ‘It was really thoughtless of you to go to the cinema without asking me.’ Then your partner can just say something like ‘No, it wasn’t, I thought you wouldn’t feel like it.’
Another tip: Don’t bring in what other people think about the situation, or claim you know what your partner is thinking. Like, ‘You know you just put your arm round that girl at the party to make me jealous. And my sister says so too!’ That’s just going to be annoying, and it won’t help your partner to think about your feelings.
Keep your cool
Emotions are healthy and normal. But when you’re feeling emotional, it can be hard to express yourself clearly and listen properly. If you’re feeling furious, for example, it’s probably best to save the conversation for later. Otherwise you might end up saying something you’ll regret. It can even be a good idea to order your thoughts by writing them down before you bring them up with your partner.
Start with a positive, and then come with the critique
If you’ve decided to tell your partner that you’re unhappy or uncomfortable with something, try to do it in a way that doesn’t upset them. One way is to build on a positive.
‘I love when you pull me close to you, but in the future can you be a little less rough?’
‘Sex with you is wonderful. But could we try… next time?’