We all know effective communication is key to any healthy relationship. However, we also know that sometimes words can be hard. At times when we’re feeling elevated or we have a significant difference of opinion from the person we are talking to - the communication exchange can be difficult.
Sometimes, when we’re in conversation with someone, we are not really hearing what the other person is saying. We may be listening with the intention of formulating a response that further proves our point or opinion. This is a recipe for a miscommunication disaster. Try to really hear - to understand what the other person is saying. You will still have your opportunity to respond with your thoughts and feelings, but instead of coming from a defensive or reactive space, you can speak from a space that is helpful and solution-oriented.
This is the most helpful and sometimes the most difficult part of effective communication. When we validate what the other person is saying, we’re communicating to them that we hear them and that we understand what they’re saying. Validation doesn’t mean we necessarily agree, it means we’re hearing and seeing the other person’s point of view. This could look like a simple, ‘I can understand how that would be frustrating,’ or ‘I see your perspective,’ or ‘that sounds really tough.’ Validating what the other person is saying and feeling is the simplest way to reduce defensiveness and increase the chance for healthy, effective communication in relationships.
Sometimes when we are in conflict or arguing with someone it can feel like we’re just circling around the same topics. We don’t feel heard and that feeling of invalidation can cause us to get even more elevated. Remember, when we are in a heightened, elevated or angry state, our brain physiologically has a difficult time with judgement. We are reactionary and have high potential for making harmful decisions - even through words. Take a break if you feel yourself getting too elevated. It’s ok to table a conversation for a few minutes or hours to allow both parties to get back to a place of calm(ish).
Communication in relationships takes practice. It requires us to be not only good listeners but a good ‘hearer’ of the other person’s thoughts and feelings. We must be intentional about the words we choose to use and be aware of our own reactions. Communication is key for any and all relationships and the more we practice helpful, effective communication skills and interventions, the healthier our relationships will grow to be.
You deserve to experience safe, happy, and healthy relationships. If you or a loved one are struggling with relationship communication, our certified wellness coaches can help. Reach out today; you don’t have to walk this journey alone.