Better Communication for Healthy Relationships

Open and honest communication is the key to creating and maintaining healthy relationships. But how is that done? What are the practical tips in doing that? Below are some pointers garnered through research, providing therapy and personal experience. The term “partner” is used, but these tips could be used in various relationships from a family member to a friend.

1. Say Something. If something is bothering you, it is better to speak up than to ignore it. Don’t expect your partner to be a mind reader. That often leads to either resentment, or passive aggressive actions (such as saying that nothing is wrong, and then giving the silent treatment, or making snide comments.) To start the conversation you could say “There is something on my mind and I think we should talk about it”.
2. Listen. Intently listen to what your partner has to say. Let your partner finish their thought. The fall back position is to try to counter the point, or object by giving alternative explanations. That may win the argument, but won’t help the relationship.
3. Be honest with each other. If you want the relationship to work, honesty is integral. That means that you will have to say what’s on your mind. Done with respect this can lead to great communication.
4. Respect each other. Your partner’s thoughts and feelings have value, as do yours. You may not agree with your partner’s thoughts and feelings, but that doesn’t mean you can’t respect them.
5. Use “We” statements and “I feel statements”. Avoid accusatory “you did this” statements, but rather how you felt when your partner did something you didn’t like.
6. Pick your battles. Some things are worth discussing some things not. Think about what’s important to you and what’s not.
7. Keep it on topic. Often fights feel like open season to bring up any and all things that have ever happened in the relationship. Keep it to the issue at hand and resolve it.
8. Know how to fight. Don’t talk over your partner or try to win points. It’s not a competition. Do not use degrading language, blaming, or yelling. Take turns speaking, and use time outs when necessary.

Communication is very important in relationships – whether they are romantic or not. These tips can help you communicate more effectively and strengthen your relationship. They take practice, and sometimes in the heat of the moment, you may not always remember to follow them, but over time, they will help.