OFTEN, we usually believe that communication is one of the things that contribute to a successful relationship. That mentality must be changed. Communication is not just one of the ingredients needed for a relationship to work, it is the pillar of any relationship known to man. From friendship to marital relationships, the place of communication cannot be over flogged.
One would have to agree with Tony Gaskins in his assessment, communication to a relationship is like oxygen to life. Without it… it dies. That is how important communication is to any relationship. The breakdown of communication, therefore, is the breakdown of a relationship. No matter how strong or lasting the bond may seem, once communication goes out of the window, it is only a matter of time before the relationship is dissolved.
A lot of people seem to forget so fast that it takes two to tango. For any form of relationship, it involves more than one individual. This implies that there would be periods and moments when the harmonious existence of both parties might need to be negotiated. The way by which this is done is via communication. Even in a non-marital relationship, communication is key. If my friend does something, I am not comfortable with, it is my duty to reach out and communicate. A simple “I don’t like what you did just now” is enough. I have communicated.
There are plenty of questions that may come to heart when communication is raised as an important criterion in relationships. Issues like, what if the other party is not listening? Can’t he just get the message I am trying to pass across? We have been together for so long, she’s supposed to know I don’t like it when she does this. All of these issues are valid but it’s not enough reason for you to give up on communication within your relationship. Bear in mind that the day you give up on communication is the very day you give up on your relationship.
With that in mind, let us get five hacks that can help you communicate better in your relationships.
Be open and honest
There is no point communicating if all you will be putting out are half-truths. When both people know what they want from the relationship and feel comfortable expressing their needs, fears, and desires, it can increase trust and strengthen the bond between you. It is as simple as that. Openness implies that you talk about all issues, comfortable or not. While at it, honesty is a necessary virtue.
Do not be afraid of disagreement
One of the reasons why a lot of people shy away from communicating is because they dread disagreement. The key in a strong relationship, though, is not to be fearful of conflict. You need to feel safe to express things that bother you without fear of retaliation and be able to resolve conflict without humiliation, degradation, or insisting on being right. Don’t be afraid to disagree with your partner. For any relationship to grow, there must be disagreement, then a consensus is reached and growth can then occur.
Be a good listener
While a great deal of emphasis in our society is put on talking, if you can learn to listen in a way that makes another person feel valued and understood, you can build a deeper, stronger connection between you. There’s a big difference between listening in this way and simply hearing. When you really listen—when you’re engaged with what’s being said—you’ll hear the subtle intonations in your partner’s voice that tells you how they’re really feeling and the emotions they’re trying to communicate. Being a good listener doesn’t mean you have to agree with your partner or change your mind. But it will help you find common points of view that can help you to resolve conflict. When you are a good listener, the consensus points will be clearer and you can easily advance the conversation.
Prioritise face to face communication
Many people in romantic relationships find that the face-to-face contact of their early dating days is gradually replaced by hurried texts, emails, and instant messages. While digital communication is great for some purposes, it doesn’t positively impact your brain and nervous system in the same way as face-to-face communication. Sending a text or a voice message to your partner saying “I love you” is great, but if you rarely look at them or have the time to sit down together, they will still feel you don’t understand or appreciate them. And you’ll become more distanced or disconnected. The emotional cues you both need to feel loved can only be conveyed in person, so no matter how busy life gets, it is important to carve out time to spend together.
Great communication is not all talks
So much of our communication is transmitted by what we don’t say. Nonverbal cues, which include eye contact, tone of voice, posture, and gestures such as leaning forward, crossing your arms, or touching someone’s hand, communicate much more than words. When you can pick up on your partner’s nonverbal cues or “body language,” you’ll be able to tell how they really feel and be able to respond accordingly. For a relationship to work well each person has to understand their own and their partner’s nonverbal cues. Your partner’s responses may be different from yours. For example, one person might find a hug after a stressful day a loving mode of communication—while another might just want to take a walk together or sit and chat.
It’s also important to make sure that what you say matches your body language. When you experience positive emotional cues from your partner, you feel loved and happy, and when you send positive emotional cues, your partner feels the same.
Next week on WhatsApp conversation, we will be considering the question ‘After a breakup, would you return an expensive gift your ex got you?’ Be a part of the conversation.
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