One of the most important factors in a relationship, whether it’s between friends, family, or romantic partners, is communication. Communication, especially healthy communication, allows both parties to be on the same page, to understand each other’s feelings and needs, and to work together as a unit rather than independent individuals. But how can you communicate better with your partner? Here are 10 ways to do just that.
1) Take turns talking
Speak when it’s your turn, and listen closely while they talk. Don’t interrupt them, no matter how much you want to jump in or prove a point. In turn, don’t be afraid to ask your partner for what you need (more time at work? help with an upcoming project?). Be sure to listen closely when they’re talking so that you know what they need from you.
Listening is perhaps one of our most powerful skills when it comes to effective communication. Most people only listen at about 30 percent, meaning that they’re only absorbing a third of what you’re saying. (Not so good if you want your message heard!)
The best way around that problem is simple: practice listening, even when you don’t feel like it. Always make sure that you take your time and really focus on what your partner has to say.
If you find yourself thinking about something else or starting to get distracted, try to refocus your attention. That way, you can be sure that nothing important will slip through the cracks!
3) Put yourself in their shoes
Ask your partner what their perspective is on a situation. Don’t try to defend yourself or convince them of your point of view. Focus instead on just understanding where they’re coming from and keeping an open mind.
You might be surprised by how much you can learn about each other, and how it can change how you interact in future conflicts. Plus, taking time to understand why someone is feeling a certain way may help you find ways to address their concerns rather than arguing over whose opinion is right.
Communication isn’t always about resolving problems; sometimes it’s just as important for building relationships. Couples who have more positive communication skills, like listening actively and showing empathy—report higher levels of happiness in their relationships than those who don’t. We know that communication is linked to relationship satisfaction and lower levels of stress, so learning how to communicate effectively can really help improve your relationship overall.
4) Do it with a positive mindset
When approaching a difficult conversation, it is important that you not only have a positive mindset but you also take control of your emotions.
Without doing so, your partner may sense that you are upset and tense. Letting them know in advance that you will be discussing an important topic or sharing an update with them can help take some of the stress off. If possible, try not to have these conversations over text message.
Instead, pick up the phone or schedule a face-to-face meeting to talk about what’s on your mind. This way, you won’t feel rushed and will have more time to think through what you want to say.
5) Let go of grudges
Holding onto old grudges, even in subtle ways, can be detrimental to any romantic relationship. Forgiveness doesn’t necessarily mean you have to forget what happened, but it does mean that you have an opportunity to move on and be happy together. Think of things your partner has done or said in their life that hurt you or made you feel unloved, and forgive them. This is a great way to open up communication about other issues as well. Even if they don’t realize they did something wrong, forgiving them can help clear up past issues so you can focus on moving forward instead of dwelling on mistakes from years ago.
6) Show affection during fights
When two people fight, it’s easy for feelings to be hurt. The important thing is how you deal with those feelings and what you do next. It’s very difficult for relationships if one person holds resentment toward their partner, even after apologies have been made.
Showing affection during an argument can help diffuse anger and repair damage between partners, so consider holding hands or giving a kiss when things get heated in order to calm down and reconnect.
7) Let them have the last word
You may have heard of something called active listening, which is a technique for reflecting back what you hear someone say. If you really want to improve your communication skills and deepen your relationship, put active listening into practice. When you’re listening, repeat back exactly what they said. Don’t offer any judgment or advice—just restate what you heard and let them respond before taking over again.
8) Don’t forget about non-verbal communication
Even if you’re a master communicator, sometimes your body language will contradict what you’re saying. It may not feel that way, but research suggests that non-verbal cues account for at least 55% of our communication. So even if you don’t mean for it to happen, your body can let people know how you feel about something without your permission. That’s why it’s important to pay attention both when someone is saying something and when they are not.
9) Learn from each other
It can be easy to fall into routine when you’re in a relationship, especially one that’s been going on for several years. We all have our habits, routines and patterns. Being so familiar with each other can make it easy to get complacent and not work at keeping a healthy relationship (or even just basic communication). Learn from each other—what worked? What didn’t? What could we do better next time? This is important because if you don’t learn from your mistakes, how will you ever grow as a couple? Communication is key!
10) Give them space when needed.
Communication is important in a relationship, and sometimes we need space. But that doesn’t mean you should never talk. Just make sure your partner knows when you need some space—and that they respect it. If you feel like your partner is pushing you for more time together, tell them what you need. Don’t worry about seeming needy; doing so can help improve communication by giving your partner insight into what makes you happy and what stresses or saddens you.10 Ways to Communicate Better with Your Partner