We are not all taught how to effectively communicate our wants and needs, we can come across as defensive, too emotional or even arrogant, to our partners. As a result, we can often feel unheard and judged which can result in us withdrawing from our partner and protecting our real feelings. Does this sound familiar? You’re not alone.
There are three key skills that can be learned and implemented to help you communicate more effectively with your partner to save every discussion from turning into an argument – Confidence, Active Listening and Action. Let’s explore them further …
STEP 1 – Build your confidence
Confidence comes from knowing exactly what you need from your partner and relationship, and why you need it. Once you have clearly identified what you really need to express and the reasons behind it, you will feel more comfortable, speak with clarity and better connect with your partner. But how do you identify what you really need?
It’s important to feel confident when communicating your needs
Suggestion 1 on how to be more confident –Identify your true feelings;
When we redirect the issue or blame onto our partner, our common response is anger. Anger is a defensive emotion designed to protect us from addressing what the real feeling behind the behaviour is. If your partner has said or done something that has angered you, begin by identifying what the real impact on you is rather than reacting. Perhaps you could feel that your partner’s behaviour is telling you that they do not love you or respect you, but that has been masked by anger. Reflect deeply on what you truly feel and respond to your partner with this emotion instead of anger.
Suggestion 2 on how to be more confident – Prioritise time for yourself to explore your needs fully.
This is particularly important as a parent as we tend to put ourselves last. When we do this and ignore our own needs, our stress builds, resentment creeps in and we struggle to tap into our own happiness. We often rely on our partner to bring us back up, but unfortunately, they are not mind readers. When they don’t know what we need, they are unable to fully give us the support we require which may cause us to feel disappointed and disengaged from the relationship.
Suggestion 3 on how to be more confident –Take away judgement (of yourself & others)
Judgement does not define who you are. To get full clarity of your needs, you must minimise the judgment of yourself. Your self-worth is vital when you explore within. Avoid fuelling your insecurity with judgement – after all, this is only hurting you more. Start your day with a daily mantra, such as “I am confident” or “I deserve better for myself.”
Step 2 – Active Listening
We have all heard of active listening, but what is it and how does it work?
Active Listening is one of the most important skills to influence your communication for the better. It can reduce misunderstandings and conflict, instead creating a safe space for you and your partner to have open conversations where you feel comfortable to express your feelings openly and without fear of being misunderstood or judged.
So how can you become a successful active listener?
- Approach each conversation with the intention to learn and understand, not to respond.
- Stop and listen to what your partner is saying with an open mind and not with the thought of your rebuttal. Avoid interrupting.
- Paraphrase back what you have heard, either in your own words or in your partners words, for understanding and clarity. This will help them feel truly heard.
- Keep your body language neutral and non-confrontational Be mindful of your facial expression, make eye contact, soften your body posture and be fully present in the moment. Don’t forget to acknowledge your understanding through nodding or verbal acknowledgement.
- Communicate with the intention to resolve, not to win
Tip: Maybe try something new… – instead of being reactive to your partner and responding immediately, try a be proactive in your communication – stop, listen and learn. It’s as simple as that!
'Everything you need to break unhealthy cycles is within you'
Step 3 – Be and Stay present
Keep your discussion in the present moment. Avoid bringing up past issues to validate your defence as it may steer your discussion in a non-productive direction and potentially escalate the conversation into an argument. Stay focused on the topic at hand.
Your actions and behaviours play a big role on how your partner will react and respond to you. If you believe your discussion is not going anywhere, or your own feelings are escalating into anger, it is okay to respectfully express to your partner that you need some time to process your feelings, but you will return to the discussion when you are calmer, clearer of your needs, and more willing to actively listen so you can explore and resolve the conflict.
Tip: It is okay to agree to disagree sometimes, as long as it helps you to both move on.
Final note: Unfortunately, most of us were not taught how to effectively communicate with our partner. Instead, we have been taught to protect and defend ourselves at all costs so it is understandable that these communication styles may not come naturally to you at first. I also understand the hesitation you may be feeling, but effective communication is a learnt behaviour that requires practice … lots of practice!
For me personally, effective communication is a work in progress and something I practice every day. I have had the most powerful conversations using the above techniques. I encourage you to give them a try and practice them daily, and be open and receptive to learning and experiencing new opportunities in your conversations.
‘Great communicators give themselves permission to learn through listening to others in an empathetic and understanding way. They know when to speak their needs and they know when to listen to others’.
If you and your partner would like to learn more about effective communication, get in touch with me today on 0422 311 089 for a non-obligational chat or https://solacecounsellingservices.com.au/contact-us