Communication is always a challenge in relationships. Couples talk but do not always communicate effectively with their partners. We have a need in a relationship to be heard and understood, or we do not feel loved. Has your partner ever said to you, “You don’t listen to me,” or have you ever felt that your partner doesn’t listen to you? Next time you want to talk about something important and have your partner listen, follow these tips.
The first thing you can do to improve your communication is to connect emotionally with your partner. The closer you two feel to each other, the better your communication will be. The happier you are in your relationship in general, the better the communication will be and the more you and your partner will feel heard. So, make it a priority to let your partner know how much you appreciate them, and tell them what you appreciate about them.
When something important needs to be discussed, be sure to pick the right time. Don’t ask to have the discussion when your partner is tired or hungry for example. Make sure you have some uninterrupted time. You may have to let your partner know you want to discuss something and then pick a time in the near future to do so.
Ladies, it is also important to remember that men do not like conversations to go on too long. They are problem solvers and do not need to discuss things in as much detail as you do. If you are bringing up an issue to address, give them a shorter version of the problem. This will encourage them to listen to you, and you will feel heard. Guys, remember that if she feels heard, she will talk less. This is one way you can work together to have better communication by understanding each other’s differences.
Remember to use “I” statements instead of “you” when addressing the issue. It is important not to attack or blame the other person. Plan ahead of time how you can best phrase your comments so you can get your point across without putting your partner on the defensive.
When your partner is talking to you, respond to them so they know that you are listening and understand their point of view. Stop multi-tasking and give your partner you undivided attention. That means no checking your phone or watching TV during the conversation.
Remember that to really listen you need to just listen! This is hard to do because we naturally start thinking of a response or a solution once our partner starts to talk. It is important to just give them your full attention when they are talking. This also means not judging what they are saying.
Once you have heard your partner, then it is time to decide if that is all they needed from your or if it is time to suggest a solution or give advice. Only do this if your partner is looking for advice, though. Sometimes we really only need to be heard and supported. If you are unsure, just ask your partner what they want from you. If you partner gives you advice, be sure to respect that advice and at least give it some thought. This is especially important to men. They are problem solvers by nature and need to feel like you are listening to their advice and considering it.
If you follow these tips, your partner will feel connected to you, heard and loved. This makes communication much more effective, and your partner will be more willing to listen in the future and to negotiate on issues when they arise. This deepens the connection between the two of you.
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Lori Ann Davis, MA, CRS
Certified Relationship Specialist
Radio host, “Ask Lori” show on WGIVCharlotte.com