When most of my clients want to improve their communication skills at home or at work, they focus on how to better handle conflict. They want to have more empathy, to avoid being critical, or to make Read
Communication problems often lead to relationship issues, which is no great surprise. If you can't communicate with your partner, how can you cultivate a sense of closeness and love?
Still, basic communication challenges often lead to broken relationships. It makes you wonder what everyone's doing wrong. We're going to cover five common communication omissions that threaten relationships.
1. Not asking unique, personal questions
"How was your day?"
There's nothing implicitly wrong with the above question. But, if repeated frequently, it lacks sincerity and shows a lack of effort. Many couples go through the motions of social platitudes because they don't know what else to say, but this kind of filler talk can be surprisingly devastating. Why?
When you say something canned, it implies you're doing it out of social duty, like nodding your head when you accidentally lock eyes with someone. "Oh, I guess I'm supposed to ask how your day was now.” This is not the message you want to send to someone you love.
When you say something unique, however, it's not only more engaging, it communicates: "I care about you." Try asking things like, "Did you learn anything new today?" or, "What made you smile today?"
The latter question is especially poignant because it shows that you're taking an active interest in their emotional well-being, and they'll get to relive the happiest part of their day. It's a better way to get a real conversation started, too.
2. Not stating the obvious
"I love you. Your beauty is what makes the birds sing (obviously)."
Sometimes, we need to hear the obvious. It's not enough to tell someone you love them once, because later they'll wonder, "But how about now?" The same goes for compliments. When our needs aren't being met, we'll look for it in other places, which can be a slippery slope.
3. Not communicating a problem or harsh truth
Strong relationships are built on the foundation of being able to talk about and talk through anything. The more difficult, awkward conversations you have, the more you'll trust each other.
4. Not communicating at all (or being passive aggressive)
Passive aggressiveness might be the most effective way to end a relationship. The very first rule of communication — the one that overrides any communication tip you hear — is that you have to DO IT. Not speaking to each other, only speaking defensively, and hiding behind thoughtless platitudes are all ways of shutting down communication channels. And when communication stops, whether literally or practically, that relationship will begin to die. Think about that the next time you're about to teach someone a lesson with silence.
Communication is the true life source of relationships. Keep it going and do it effectively, and you will overcome the obstacles all couples face, and after each victory, you'll be even closer. If you find that you never fight or argue, that's great, but be careful, because it may be a sign that you're not fully communicating with each other in order to "keep the peace."
5. Not listening and empathizing
When you hear the word "communication," do you imagine someone speaking or silently listening? Most of us would imagine speaking, but the key to communication is in understanding the other person. When both people seek to understand the other person, communication just works better. When both people are focused on communicating their own thoughts, who is there to listen?
Empathizing is another key component of relational communication. Empathy is understanding and joining in your partner's emotional state. And think about how important that is: if you don't show empathy, they will feel alone in their hardships. Many people, myself included, often jump into advice mode too quickly. But when people share their problems, they often don't need advice; they need emotional support.
Make the choice right now to commit to healthy communication practices in your relationship, and work together to improve as a team.
The first step: Share this with your significant other, and tell them which area(s) you personally intend to improve upon for them.
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To learn more about how to have a great relationship or moving on from a failed relationship, check out our video courses How To Have The Greatest Relationship Of Your Life and How To Heal From A Breakup.