Mastering The Art of Communication

We all know that communication is important in a relationship. It’s the foundation for building trust, intimacy, and deep emotional connections.

It’s the way to knowing your lover, and even yourself. Communication reveals your desires in a way that suppressing them or “thinking” about them never could.

Knowing just how important communication really is, it’s imperative that you learn how to communicate effectively.

For instance, when it comes to communicating with another individual, for the sake of persuasion or influence, expressing yourself isn’t just about what you want, think or feel, it’s about why. Your “why” is more powerful than you think.

Pause for a moment and think about something you want to communicate to someone. Picture telling this person what you want…now picture telling them what you want and why you want it. Which one’s more compelling?

Explaining the reason behind why you want something, gives your partner something logical and rational to work with. Tell them why you’re asking for this or that. People aren’t all motivated or affected by things in the same way; and if he or she understands what you’re feeling and why you’re asking for something, they’ll be more compelled to agree, or at least to comply.

The “why” cuts through the noise, so that it can make its way to the heart & mind.

Let’s be clear. Communication isn’t only about expressing your concerns, insecurities or any other topic that may otherwise be challenging – it’s also about expressing your joy and appreciation. Communicating in your romantic relationship is about sharing in a genuine and thoughtful way.

When communicating with your partner, remember that it’s not about pointing the finger. It’s about growth; growth as individuals, and as a couple.

5 principles of effective communication:

#1: Honesty

In a true partnership, transparency and honesty are key to fruitful communication. When conversations come up, feel free to tell your truth; you can only build intimacy through revealing who you truly are. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, express how you feel and why, and show the tenderness of your heart.

#2: Respect

With that said, the way to do this is with respect for yourself and the person you’re talking to. When you communicate in a mature way, using words of appreciation for yourself and your partner, you can confidently communicate your needs while simultaneously respecting their views & needs.

#3: Timing

We’ve all heard the saying, timing is everything. It is both tactful and respectful to choose the right time to have a deeper conversation. “Time” in this case may be relative to how long you’ve been seeing each other, and/or to the “time” of day. Pace yourself with the  level of intimate conversations relative to the progress of your relationship (there’s no rush!) and have your conversations (especially the more challenging ones) when you both have time on your hands. Choose a time that isn’t particularly stressful for either of you. The point is to set up your conversation for success.

#4: Mindset

A growth and connection mindset will make all the difference in how you approach your conversations and how they’re received. Make the goal to both grow and further connect with your partner; this mindset will be reflected in your tone and will inspire you to listen to your partner from a deeper place, beyond your immediate needs.

#5: Understanding

Which leads me to the final principle, seeking to understand. When your intention is to better understand your parter, all of the above will come naturally. This principle enables a deeper connection between the two of you and allows you to uncover something(s) new about your partner. It also holds the answers you’re looking for. If you go into a conversation with the sole goal of being heard, you’re missing the mark completely. When you hear what they are truly saying, whether it’s what you want to hear or not, therein lies the answers and solutions you’re looking for.

10 ways to make your communication stronger, get your point across, and ultimately step closer towards your partner – even when the conversation is a tough one to have:

#1: Get Aligned

Do what you need to do to feel as light, joyful and calm (as you can) before saying anything that may be more difficult to express. The energy you bring to a conversation is everything; it plays a major role in how the message is heard, perceived and responded to. Do both of you a favour and take some time to care for your emotional well-being before exploring more difficult terrains.

#2: Tell Them The Story You’re Making Up

This is a communication hack I learned from vulnerability expert Brene Brown. The idea here is that you’re telling your partner your interpretation of a situation and simultaneously letting them know that your story may very well not be accurate. This approach makes your partner understand you and gives them an open floor to explain their point of view. You literally start your sentence with, “the story I’m making up is”…you think I’m not doing enough, or you don’t think I’m beautiful – or whatever insecurity may be triggered for you.

For example, if your partner makes a comment about how messy your home is and that makes you feel like they’re calling you lazy, you can say “the story I’m making up is that you’re blaming be for our messy home and that you think I’m lazy”. Then give your partner the chance to clarify what they meant and accept their explanation as their truth.

You also want to acknowledge your truth while you’re at it. The reason why their comment triggered you is because you’re insecure about how much you get done and feel like you should be doing more (if we’re using the example above). This is an opportunity to acknowledge and change the story.

#3: Have An Open Mind

You probably have a pretty clear agenda of how you see this conversation going and what you hope to get out of it. Great, clarity is important! Balance that with being ready to hear something that you may not have expected and be ready to hear and see things from another perspective. There’s a good chance your partner sees things differently, and this conversation is an opportunity to learn more about their point of view.

#4: Be Rational

Express your point of view in a logical way, founded by real events.

#5: Be Clear And Concise

Anything else is confusing and unfruitful. Be clear about how you feel or what you want, why you feel or want this thing and what you’re hoping for.

#6: Be Calm

Your clear message speaks for itself, there’s no reason to raise your voice unless you’re looking for a fight. Take the time to breathe before talking and calm both your energy and your voice. It’s so much easier for someone to hear you clearly when they can hear the voice of the person they care about.

#7: Be Mindful Of Your Words

It’s best to avoid blanket statements such as “you always” or “you never” – a sure fire way to get the defences up. Always is a big word; it implies “every single time”. It also puts people off and takes away your credibility – even if you’re saying it in a positive light. Same thing goes for never – has this person really Never done that thing you want? And can you really say that you’ve Never done so and so? Save that word for the rare occasions where it truly applies. And in the meantime, try saying “sometimes” – it’s both easier to hear and easier to agree with.

I would also avoid starting your sentences with “You”, which can come off quite accusatory. A softer approach is to start your sentences with “I”. You could say something like “I don’t feel like you’re appreciating me as much as you used to”, or “I feel undervalued when you’re late for our date nights”, or “I think we could do better with the way we manage our finances.”

#8: Put Your Guards Down

Give your love a chance to express themselves without fearing your reaction. Breathe, pause before you respond and remember that you’re having this conversation because you want things to improve. This is not war.

#9: Make Your Goal To Create More Love & Understanding

There’s nothing that creates more intimacy than expressing yourself and listening and learning from the one you love. If you can go into this conversation with a sense of curiosity and discovery, and less of an agenda of proving yourself right, you’ve already won. By creating a safe space for both of you to express yourselves, you also create a real opportunity to foster more love and understanding between you and your partner. There’s nothing more satisfying than that.

#10: Forgiveness

If you start the conversation with anger or sadness, allow yourself to start “forgiving” your partner throughout the conversation. The more they explain themselves, the more you should seek to understand and forgive.

How about those times when you’re on the receiving end of a conversation you weren’t prepared for?

The way you listen and respond makes all the difference.  

The safer the environment you can create, the safer your partner will feel to express themselves now and in the future. How you react will set the foundation for how forthcoming they will be. And isn’t trust and honesty what we all claim to want in our relationships?

When something comes your way that’s hard to hear or deal with, breathe. Take a moment to breathe in deeply and breathe out slowly. The better you get at that on the daily, the more equipped you’ll be for the bigger stuff that comes along (this is where meditation comes in handy).

Be aware that reactions like yelling, judging and/or basically “losing it” can and will stifle the flow of honesty in your relationship. The person becomes fearful of telling the truth, or at least, intensely hesitant. So, they hold onto pieces of information; and when you find out, you feel mad, hurt and betrayed. You have to recognize your part in this.

The ability to remain calm in the face of any storm is a direct reflection of your emotional maturity and it’s a skill that’ll help you create more open and honest relationships.

If the truth is important to you, then it’s not only a matter of being able to dish it out; it’s just as much about taking it in. In other words, don’t be scary.

5 ways you can help your partner communicate open & honestly:

#1: Create a Loving Environment

You can do this by touching them gently or smiling. Let them know that you care and that you’re here to hear them out; you can be trusted and they’re safe to express themselves.

#2: Be Patient

If your partner isn’t good at communicating, it will likely take them a while to get all their words out. Be patient while your love searches for ways to express themselves.

#3: Don’t Interrupt or Finish Their Sentences

And while that’s happening, avoid trying to “help” by finishing their sentences or putting ideas in their mind. Give them the space to find their thoughts and words.

#4: Be Mindful of Your Reactions

If your partner says something you weren’t ready to hear, breathe and take a moment before reacting. How you react now will determine how likely your partner is to try this whole communicating thing again.

#5: Thank Them For Speaking Up

Regardless of the outcome or what your partner says, thank them for opening up and communicating with you. You need to acknowledge this if it’s something you want to encourage more of in the future.