Relationship Communication Skills

by Theun Mares -

Avoiding Miscommunication:

Joe and Susan, an otherwise normal couple, had problems communicating with one another.

Whenever Joe voiced his opinion, Susan would interrupt him mid-sentence because she thought she knew exactly what he was going to say. Then, she would go off on a wild tangent while Joe became frustrated.

This situation is all too familiar as many people live in worlds needlessly alienated from loved ones due to poor communication skills.

For these people, miscommunication causes problems ranging from boredom to break-ups to utter frustration and despair. The good news is that it does not need to be this way.

Have you ever spend time watching two people talking?

I mean, really watched them closely and tried to follow their conversation? Did you feel that they were communicating well, or was something missing?

True, effective communication is about more than getting across your point of view.

It is about opening yourself up to others so that they can feel from the bottom of their heart that you have enough care and respect to understand who they are. Effective communication is about being there for someone.

Assume You Will Be Misunderstood 

We tend to think that whatever we say is always clear and obvious and easily understood. But others don’t always see things as we do, and we need to make allowances for this inescapable reality of life.

We each have our own view of the world that acts as a filter through which we perceive everything that happens in our lives.

This inescapable tendency to experience life through our own inner, interpretive filter naturally includes our perception of what other people are saying to us.

Most importantly, we need to take embrace responsibility for our dynamic role in the interpersonal relationships of our lives.

It is vital to realize that relationships are two-way streets and that we are always, one way or another, contributing either positively or negatively to the way we communicate with others.

Be Honest and Avoid Blame 

Speak the truth – even if it is not what others wish to hear. Keeping quiet or merely agreeing with others, especially when you know differently, will only make you “a partner in crime” and will not serve anyone.

The first step to improve communication is saying honestly and clearly what is on your mind. If you make others hear your truth, they will respect you and, in time, probably thank you for it.

However, being totally honest does not give you license to be cruel -- it is about being frank. This is not about winning a battle but communicating to be understood and to experience the realities of others.

So, state the facts as you perceive them, as objectively as you can, and say how you are feeling as a result.

Avoid using language or a tone of voice that implies blame. And don't try to score points or to make the other person look bad.

By being as objective as possible, and communicating about the facts rather than the personalities involved in the discussion, you open the door to actually being understood while giving another the opportunity to state their case.

Make Allowances for Your Own Self-Image 

Self-image forms our view of the world and is responsible for the way we filter our perceptions.

So, if the self-image of the person we are speaking with is filtering everything we say to them, we can be sure that our own self-image will also be interfering with what they are trying to say to us.

Because of this filter, we need to be aware of our self-image and recognize how it affects our perception of everything, including the way we hear others.

Learn to Listen 

If we accept that true communication is plagued by difficulties in the way we express ourselves, as well as how we perceive others, it is easy to see how important it is to learn to listen properly – how to listen with every fiber of our being.

This is different to type of listening we are probably used to.

Normally, there are all sorts of things going on in our minds when others speak to us.

Listening with all our mind and awareness means that we become open to what others are saying, without interrupting them, without justifying our own position in our minds, and without mentally formulating a response while the other person is talking.

Remember the Big Picture 

Effective communication is always a means to an end, be it to foster better work relationships or to maintain a healthy marriage.

Therefore, when you are challenged to communicate your thoughts and feelings to another, always remember the bigger picture and keep it at the front of your mind.

By focusing on the bigger picture, you will be more objective and avoid getting caught up in pettiness.

By developing the ability to be objective, it will be easier to view everything that happens, both bad and good, as simply opportunities to grow together, whatever the situation may be.

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