People in relationships can often have differences of opinion or preferences of what they, or their partner(s) do. Good communication can help everyone to find a way that works, rather than descending into conflict. Here are some tips!
- Find a convenient time to talk. Check with your partner(s) when would be a good time for them. You are more likely to hear each other when you are not tired, there are no children around, and you know you won’t be disturbed.
- Don’t blame! Starting a sentence with “Because you…” is decreasing your chances to get heard, and for you to get the outcome you want! Instead focus on what it is that you want.
- Request, don’t demand! Most people are less likely to want to cooperate if something is demanded of them. Make requests, which means being able to hear a ‘no’ to whatever it is that you are requesting.
- Check out nonviolent communication (NVC). It helps to shift the focus to the feelings and needs for everyone involved, without blaming others. It increases your chances to get whatever it is that you are wanting. Introductory talk can be found here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l7TONauJGfc&t=6384s
- Take time to listen to what the other person is saying. It can be a good idea to repeat back to them what they said, to ensure that you understood correctly what they are wanting to get across. You are much more likely to get heard if you hear the other first. You may even want to take some time to process what was said before responding.
- Be mindful of your choice of words and tone. Raising your voice, shouting, or swearing are all less likely to help you to be heard.
- Get yourself into a positive state before engaging in communication. Think about all the things you like and love about your partner before you start talking, so you are focusing on the positive in them.
- Think about what it is you want to say before you start talking. This can help you to communicate more clearly.
- Don’t automatically assume you are right. There can be different ways of doing things, or looking at things. The way you communicate can reflect this. For example, if you would like your partner to clean the house more, saying: “You are dirty” is less likely to be heard than “I would like the house to be cleaner than it is”.
- Be as specific as possible about what you would like. In the example above, you may want to explain what you mean by the house being cleaner than you would like, such as: “I would like the washing up to be done every evening before we head up to bed”. More clarity helps others to understand what you are wanting and asking for.
Good communication skills can help you to get along better, which can also be beneficial when it comes to sharing intimacy. We can look at developing some basic NVC (nonviolent communication) skills in online or face to face sessions. For developing better communication skills around giving and receiving touch, we would work with tools such as the Wheel of Consent, amongst others.