Talking to each other - communication tips

Sometimes in our relationships, it is not easy to talk to each other. We find ourselves interrupting, not allowing our partner to finish what they are saying, or feeling that as we know what they are going to say, we don’t really have to listen to any more from them as it is our turn. Here are a few ways which may help you not only to talk to each other but also, to listen to each other.

Nine ways which will help you to talk to each other in a positive and respectful way:

  • Stay focused on what you are talking about – do not get side-tracked onto things that happened maybe several years ago.
  • Listen carefully to all of what you are saying to each other – that will really help you both – not assuming anything.
  • Try to see the other person's point of view (even if you don’t agree with what your partner is saying).
  • If you feel you are being criticized, try to respond with empathy – in other words, try and read between the lines sometimes.
  • Own your own issues – don’t try and blame your partner for an issue that is yours.
  • Use ‘I’ language – try to say "I feel that..." or, "I think that...", rather than finger pointing – "you always..." or, "why don’t you...".
  • Try and find a compromise that both of you can agree on – (it is not always possible, but worth trying to find a solution that works for both of you).
  • Give yourselves permission to take a time out – walk away from any heated discussion and give yourselves time to calm down.
  • Don’t give up on trying to find a solution – a different day, a different time, things may be different for you.

Just to re-state these ideas and for you to look at them as tips:

  • Look for mutual understanding.  A solution which suits both partners. It is not about winning or being right, it is about finding resolution.
  • There are two schools of thought with regards to this next tip:
    • Try to maintain eye contact when you are talking together, this is indicative of ‘active listening’, showing your partner that you are hearing what they are saying.
    • Sometimes eye contact can be difficult to maintain when you do not feel you are getting on – sometimes a walk or a drive where you are not keeping constant eye contact, can help you to find a solution to issues.
    • See which one of these suits you both – also, it again, may be different for different discussions.
  • Remain respectful of each other's views – even if they seem to be completely different.
  • The final tip centres around ‘conflict resolution' (and may seem a little bit obvious). Avoid conflict where you can.
    • Try not to be defensive – that will escalate any discussions you are having.
    • Overgeneralising can cause additional issues – always, never, try not to go to past times.
    • It is Ok not to always be right!
    • Psychoanalysing and mind reading can lead you onto paths that are not helpful to find a resolution.
    • It is easy to forget to listen to each other as you are thinking of your response.
    • Playing the blame game – so easy to say it's someone else’s fault.
    • Sometimes it becomes a point scoring exercise where you are trying to win the argument.
    • Character assassination is not the best way to get resolution.
    • Stonewalling does not work for either partner.

It can really work if you and your partner discuss some of the pointers that you find here together. Hopefully, at a time when you are not dealing with any other conflict. Setting out ways of discussing things can really help us to find a solution. Surprisingly, often a couple is not saying things that are that different, just that they are not being heard.

If you require a nonjudgmental space to discuss these tips, contact a counsellor or psychotherapy who can support you. 

The views expressed in this article are those of the author. All articles published on Counselling Directory are reviewed by our editorial team.

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Staines-upon-Thames, Surrey, TW18 4AX
Written by Clare Francis, M.A. PG dip BSc (Hons) MBACP
Staines-upon-Thames, Surrey, TW18 4AX

Clare attained her masters degree in relationship and family therapy from the University of Hull in 2011. Clare works with families, young people and individuals. Clare also manages a thriving private practise which she currently runs from Twickenham, Windsor and Staines. She has also worked for Relate since 2008. She is a Member of the BACP.

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