Caught ya! You’re searching the internet looking for tools on communication. Well, you have found the right place! You’re thinking to yourself if only I had some tools to fix our communication. But are you sure you really need it? Well, answer these questions to help you find out: Are you NOT saying your thoughts during conversations? Is there a negative/sarcastic/rude tone in your conversations? Are there a lot of assumptions in your conversations? Do you hear complaints often? Does it seem like most of your conversations get loud and out of hand? If so, then you need help communicating! Read on. This article will provide you with the “hammers and screwdrivers” of talking to your spouse.
Effective communication is:
Timing is one of the most important tools in communication. Rather than holding back what you want to say until later, say it right in the moment. For example, your partner says they want to go out with co-workers tonight but you were hoping to spend time with them. Do not wait until later to tell them. Instead, tell them in the moment so they have an opportunity to understand you and talk about options. In the same breath, addressing conflicts in public may be embarrassing to you or your partner. Be timely in your communication but also be thoughtful of your surroundings.
Not only is it important to be thoughtful of your surroundings, but it is important to be thoughtful of what you are saying/how you are saying it. Don’t kid yourself. You know how your partner reacts when you have that “tone.” You also know how they react when you bring up certain topics. Be thoughtful about your tone when bringing up issues. Also, be thoughtful about your partner’s possible reactions when you mention the tough subjects.
Use this tool to avoid miscommunications – be direct! Do not assume that your partner knows what you want. Do not assume that they know how you feel. Instead, be direct and tell them. As a general rule, OVER-EXPLAINING is usually better than under-explaining. Be direct about what your partner needs to know and do not assume they already know it.
Using positive terms (instead of negative) is an effective tool when you want something from your partner. I do not mean terms that are “good” or “bad”. I mean “I want this” rather than “I don’t want this.”
For example, when talking to your partner don’t say, “Stop going out with your friends so much!” Instead say, “Can you stay home tonight? I was hoping to have some time together since I have been working late all week.” This way, your partner can know exactly what you want rather than what you don’t want. The first example is like calling an Uber then telling your driver, “I want to go ANYWHERE BUT downtown.” This gives the driver absolutely know direction of where he SHOULD drive – only where he shouldn’t.
The tool above all tools – stay calm. If you only take one tool from this toolbox, this should be the one. When conflicts arise, do anything you can to keep yourself calm. When you are in fight or flight mode, you are not thinking rationally and you will not make good decisions. Staying calm during arguments will help you to communicate effectively and come to a resolution.
Add these five tools to your toolbox to communicate effectively with your partner. Use timely communication to say how you feel in the moment. Be thoughtful of your surroundings, what you are saying, and how you are saying it. Use direct language to avoid miscommunications or assumptions. Say what you want in positive terms through saying what you want rather than what you don’t want. Last but not least – stay calm by all means necessary.
About The Author
Chris Cummins is a couples specialist with The Marriage and Family Clinic. He focuses on working with substance abuse and couples in high conflict. Chris enjoys hiking, traveling, and spending time with his family.