“Some people change their ways when they see the light, others when they feel the heat.”

-Caroline Schoeder

Communication is at the heart of healthy relationships.  Good communication is the life blood of enduring love and intimacy. For so many what starts off as ‘We just clicked and I knew we had a connection on so many levels’ eventually becomes, frighteningly, like ‘Entering a war zone.’  

The last thing that any one of us wants is to have a relationship become ‘A dead duck in the water.’  Before the relationship is ‘beyond resuscitation’ there are some tips and suggestions worthy of consideration and implementation…..

What’s at the heart of a positive relationship?

  1. Respect
  2. Honesty
  3. Trust
  4. Encouragement
  5. Spontaniety
  6. Variety
  7. Setting clear boundaries
  8. To be loved
  9. To be wanted
  10. To be seen
  11. To be listened to
  12. To be safe
  13. To be remembered for your strengths rather than misdemeanours (minor wrongdoing)

Positive and smart conversations start with…

  • Thought
  • Clarity of intention
  • Consideration of the other person’s/recipient’s position
  • Applying philosophical filters – Consider Socrates…
    • Is what you are about to say… true?
    • Is what you are going to say… something good?
    • Is what you are going to say… useful?
  • Focus on solutions

“Great minds discuss ideas, average minds discuss events, small minds discuss people.”           

-Eleanor Roosevelt

Listening is a commitment and compliment.

By giving your partner your full attention, acknowledgement, appreciation and acceptance instead of blame, there will be a major shift in how they listen and respond to your show of care and concern.

All people have specific and simple needs..

Consider what can be said and done which will make them feel immediately loved. Why not ask…”Is there a couple of times when you felt really loved by me? I would genuinely appreciate knowing.”

None of us are mind readers!

We all like to think that we are obvious in our intentions, thoughts and feelings.  Not so!  If you aren’t saying it clearly, your partner remains in the dark.  

6 Ways to better communication with your partner….

  1. Small talk is OK.  It’s those insignificant details that are likely to improve close emotional ties with your partner.
  2. Talk about things that you have in common.  Working together on solutions often comes from sharing those incidental discussions.
  3. Listening cements our connection with each other.  It’s about understanding.  If you’re uncertain seek clarification.  For example…”Sorry, could I just ask you about that?”  …   ‘Joe, is what you’re saying….”
  4. Don’t assume you know the answers.  Ask the question, seek clarification!
  5. It’s fine to talk about yourself, but don’t take over.  It’s a balancing act – talk and listen, with the emphasis on being a good listener.
  6. Search for and nurture those hidden shared moments.

Love is a verb.  It’s an action word!

Love has to be kindled and built on every day; it has to be invited in, nurtured and cultivated.  Love is not passive, it’s an active process – the continual expression of what’s in your heart, mind and soul.

“Communication must be HOT.
That’s Honest, Open, and Two-Way.”

-Dan Oswald

10 Commandments of Clean Communication
(Couple Skills, McKay et al)

“Clean communication is taking responsibility for the impact of what you say.”

    1. Avoid ‘you’ messages of accusation and blame.  Eg.  ‘You caused me to….’
    2. Avoid loaded terms and words of judgement… ‘You’re so….’ ‘I’m tired of your……’ ‘If you were more reasonable….’
    3. Avoid ‘Global labels’.  Global labels are a blanket attack on a person’s character or behaviour.  It makes a person feel helpless, particularly if it is anchored to a partner’s sense of identification or personality.
      For example… ‘You’re always so self centred’    ‘You’re such a …..’
    4. Endeavour to use “I feel statements’ rather than verbally attack your partner.
    5. Avoid negative comparisons… ‘You’re so petty, just like….’
      This response can be likened to a slap in the face because most people like to think that they have evolved to those of previous generations.  Making negative comparisons makes the other feel that they can never measure up.

“History, despite its wrenching pain, cannot be unlived,
But if it is faced with courage, need not be lived again.”
-Maya Angelou

  1. Forget old history. Leave the past in the past rather than raking it up time after time.  Resurrecting old issues isn’t going to resolve the current concern.
  2. Threats are about punishment.
    Eg.  ‘If you don’t get your act together…’  ‘If you continue being like this….’ The upshot of threats is that it is an ultimatum, the last resort.  It drives a deeper wedge into relationships and may lead to the end of your relationship.
  3. Focus on your feelings rather than using them in attack.  By being withdrawn, using sarcasm, or employing cold hostility – it all leads to feelings in your partner of being overwhelmed or psychologically bludgeoned to the heart.  This is where the ‘I feel’ statements are so powerful.  Together with a calm and level voice, it acts as a balm to a challenging situation.  Open body language and being receptive creates an atmosphere of sincerity, and a willingness to communicate more effectively.
  4. Choose your battles carefully as well as the battle ground.  Aim for a truce; a treaty of respect for differences.

    “Feelings are much like waves, we cannot stop them from coming but we can choose which one to surf.” –Jonatan Martensson

  5. Use clear, whole messages which consist of 4 parts…
    Observations   – keep them neutral not focused on the person
    Thoughts – My idea/thought   ‘I worried because’
    Feelings – ‘I’m afraid that…’  ‘I feel ….’
    Needs/wants – No one is a mind reader…talk to your partner!It’s where you tell your partner something that may be difficult to hear, but you sandwich it in between two positive statements.  For example,
    ‘Harry, I love you so much and you make me so happy, but I’m having a hard time with you working such long hours.  Do you think it would be possible to make an effort to spend more time with me? Our time together is precious, and special.  I love it when we can spend more time together.”

Be mindful of the filtering block in communication.

Filtering is where you fit and process information so that it fits your views and beliefs.  It’s where you listen to some things and not to others, or hear what you want to hear (even if it wasn’t said).  Sometimes it is referred to as ‘half listening.’  Check in!  Be mindful and clarify by asking questions.  Be committed to understanding.

By listening carefully and effectively, we can change communication in a way that is rewarding mentally, socially and even financially (networks/work).  The flow-on effect is improved confidence as people respond to your new skills and behaviour.  This reinforcement encourages you and others to continue with effective listening skills and enhanced communication through clarification and engagement.  This can be a turning point in your relationships both personally and professionally.  After all, we all want that win, win result.  

Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind.”

-Dr. Seuss