5 secrets I discovered for better communication

Anna is a therapist in a clinic, spending most of her time working with couples who have communication problems.

“I am interested in their communication styles and how that affects not just the relationship between them, but also the entire family and people around them.”

Communication is not something we are not formally taught. As Anna points out, “We learn to say “please” and “thank you,” but when it comes down to talking about the tough issues, most of us are just doing what comes naturally. And that is not always best.”

Anna suggests starting out with five simple things. A couple can focus on these in or outside of therapy, and they can really help to improve their relationship.

1. Practice self-awareness.
When you get home at the end of the day, doing a quick little mind scan to raise your self awareness can make all the difference.

“Ask yourself, what’s happened in my day? What might I be upset about? Then, either decide to leave it at the door or come in and talk with your significant other about it. By being more aware of your feelings and your experiences, you’re less likely to direct it at your significant other.”

2. Take a break.
When you are having a hard time communicating or find yourself getting upset, don’t be afraid to ask for a break.

Tell your partner you are going to step out of the room for a little bit. It gives both of you some time to think about what’s going on, why you’re getting upset and helps you figure out exactly how you want to go about addressing it.

3. Use the speaker/listener technique.
First, pick an object, any object. Car keys, feather duster, wheel of cheese, whatever.
Second, whoever holds the object is the only person that can talk. They are the “speaker.” And the speaker’s responsibility is to deliver a message about how they’re feeling, what they’re thinking, their opinion on the subject in as clear a way as possible.

Third, the “listener,” is the person not holding the designated tiki torch. Can you guess what their job is? Right. Just listen. Try to understand exactly what your partner is saying. The point isn’t to try and problem-solve or to argue or debate back and forth—it’s just about simply listening to what the other person’s saying.

4. Laugh it off.
At the end of the day, we really love our significant others. We love who we’re with. And you need to remind each other about that, even in an argument. Find little ways to touch your significant other, make jokes and remind them that in a couple of hours you’ll be doing something that’s less tense and more fun. Make a funny face. Share an inside joke. Trip up the stairs. Just do something to break the ice.

5. Be forgiving.
Everybody argues and everyone gets upset with their significant other, but when the arguments over you need to forgive each other and put it behind you. If you don’t, it’ll come up in the next argument. And before you know it, there are so many layers of resentment and anger that you can’t get through it to remember why you care about the person.

Remember that fighting isn’t necessarily unhealthy. You have to voice your opinion. You have to get mad sometimes. You’re working together as a team, and that’s not always going to go smoothly. But after it’s done, you have to put it away.

Following these five steps can help improve communication and improve your overall relationship whether you practice it on your own or in therapy. It’s hard work learning to speak the language of love, but it’s worth it.

Interplanetary Conflict
Source of advice and counsel from the author of the iconic “Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus.”

Making it Work
Follow the path to healthier relationships in your life.

Love 101
Nothing’s better than a weekend getaway with your mate… to the Smart Marriages Annual Conference.

Cohabitation Nation
Read “Happily Un-Married,” a self-proclaimed fitness guide for people who live together—or are just thinking about it.

Just For Women
Tune in to Capessa Blogger Alissa Kriteman’s weekly podcast for insight on understanding your man and more importantly, yourself.