How to Communicate Effectively in a Healthy Relationship

How to Communicate Effectively in a Healthy Relationship

Effective Communication in Relationships

Couples and families frequently seek the support of family therapists when there is a breakdown in the relationship and communication.  Most strategies used by family therapists focus on effective communication.  If you are in a relationship, or struggle with communicating, you are not alone.  Below are ideas to begin working on healthy communication patterns. 

 

Practice these tips when communicating:

  • Be present when communicating.
    No multi-tasking during discussions. Put the phone down and discontinue other activities. Being fully present demonstrates that you are genuinely interested in a person or conversation.
  • Timing is everything.
    Schedule time for important conversations that works for each person. Have important conversations at opportune moments, when each party is fully engaged. Communicating when emotional or during work hours can be a set up for miscommunication.
  • Practice Active Listening.
    Eye contact, asking questions, and seeking clarification all demonstrate that you are actively listening.
  • Be a Non-Reactive Listener.
    Before reacting, ask for clarification. Statements are frequently heard incorrectly or misunderstood. Listen without judging or becoming emotional to better understand what is being communicated.
  • Assume the best.
    Give others the benefit of the doubt. We are less likely to respond defensively when we assume others have good intentions in their communications. 
  • Respectfully listen to individual opinions and viewpoints.
    Healthy relationships require valuing other’s individuality and independent thoughts-even when different. (read more about boundaries)
  • A response is not always necessary.
    Often, what is desired most is a supportive listener.
  • Use I Statements as opposed to YOU.
    (i.e. I feel hurt when). Using I statements helps preventing others feeling on the defensive.  “You made me feel” -- When communicating, speak for yourself.
  • Be the energy you want to attract.
    Stay focused on positive outcomes in your conversations.  Approach conversations with positive regard and intention. You are more likely to be understood and heard when your heart is in a good place.

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