Have you ever been glued to your phone while your partner is trying to discuss something he or she finds important? Do you and your partner speak only in passing because you’re each too focused on the myriad of other responsibilities you have to meet each day? Maybe you make these—or other—common communication mistakes without realizing the effect.
As with any change you hope to make, awareness is the first step. Once you know the problem, you can begin the process of fixing it. Here are seven common relationship communication pitfalls and their solutions:
THE PITFALL: Constant interruptions—Phone calls, emails, texts, kids…and so on…inevitably lead to difficulty paying attention.
THE FIX: Make “time out” a priority—There will always be an endless number of tasks on your to-do list but choosing to set aside even 15 minutes per day for distraction-free togetherness is a wise use of time.
THE PITFALL: Poor physical or emotional state—One or both partners feeling tired, angry, overwhelmed, stressed, hungry, etc. makes for a less-than-ideal environment for open communication.
THE FIX: Know thyself—If you typically feel stressed after work, let your partner know that this isn’t a good time to have in-depth discussions. Likewise, if you sense that your partner is exhausted from a long day, find a different time to talk.
THE PITFALL: Lack of listening skills—Interrupting or focusing only on what you want tosay next (instead of really hearing what your partner saying) is a recipe for resentment.
THE FIX: Become an active listener—Allow your partner the respect of speaking without interruption and when he or she has finished, repeat back—in your own words—the message you heard. This helps to eliminate misunderstandings.
THE PITFALL: Lack of perspective-taking—It’s natural to think about situations from our own point of view, but when we don’t even attempt to see things from our partner’s vantage point, trouble awaits.
THE FIX: Imagine “walking a mile in their shoes” —With consistent practice, you can improve your ability to see situations from your partner’s perspective.
THE PITFALL: Unsolicited advice—Offering unwanted “solutions” can be frustrating when a partner just wants to vent.
THE FIX: Ditch the “fix it” mentality—Trust that if your partner wants advice, he or she will ask for it. Work on suppressing your urge to try to fix the issue being discussed.
THE PITFALL: Negative body language—Consciously or subconsciously avoiding eye contact, crossing arms, frowning, fidgeting, etc. expresses displeasure and puts your partner on edge.
THE FIX: Practice mindfulness—Learn to observe your body language and consider the message it may be sending to your partner.
THE PITFALL: Blaming—For example, “You made me angry” or “You ruined our vacation.”
THE FIX: Use “I” statements—For example, “I feel angry when this happened” or ”I was upset because…”
If you need support for improving the relationship with your partner, contact Travco Behavioral Health today!