24 Jul Communication skills for great relationships

Great communication skills are crucial for anyone wanting a great relationship. Relationships are complex and differences will arise. We need to know how to speak up, and we need the confidence to do it even when we may earn the displeasure of our loved ones.

Great communication creates relationships that thrive. Knowing how to speak up is crucial if we are to remain true to ourselves and to our relationships.

It’s also the only way to allow our relationships to grow and thrive: if we routinely protect them from differences (and the inevitable challenges that arise from them), then how can they grow resilient and strong?

What we owe our partner at all times, including times where our experiences, views, and needs differ, is simple: honesty.

But there are plenty of ways to misinterpret what honesty means, and how to express it.

So how does it work to be honest, but in a positive, relationship building way?

These four tips will get you started with building great communication skills that allow you to be honest, even in the toughest times, whilst nurturing the relationship you love.

Know yourself.

We can’t speak up and be honest about our thoughts, feelings, wants, and needs unless we actually know what these are! It’s surprising how many people are so used to deferring to others (or to relatives, magazines, to what their mates or the girls think) that they haven’t ever really developed the self awareness that they need to stand strong and stay true to themselves when things in their own relationships get tough. Know yourself, and learn to be comfortable with having your own unique position. It all starts from there.

Know the difference between an aggressive communication style and one that is assertive.

Being honest isn’t about adopting an “I’m right: you’re wrong” position. It’s not about blaming, battering, dominating, or even trying to prove that one point of view is any more valid than another. Being honest is about communicating: what we think, what we feel, what we want and/or what we need. And it’s very much about inviting the same communication right back from our partner. It’s about collaboration and shared respect: we both have a right to our own positions, and our job is to share these in mutually respectful ways. Even if we don’t agree.

Know that some differences can never be solved. And that this is OK.

A relationship consists of two people, and differences aren’t just normal, they are healthy. One partner loves a tidy ordered house: the other loves relaxed living. One loves beer and burgers: the other eats like a saint. One loves being surrounded by friends: the other prefers quiet weekends. These differences, and a whole host of others like them, are not deal-breakers for relationships! But how they are discussed, shared, and collaboratively resolved is. Speak up, work together, and give your relationship the opportunity it needs to learn how to face differences and find solutions, together.

Know that compromises hurt, but that they are essential for relationships to survive, and thrive.

There will be times when differences cause real pain: times when when we’re not talking about what we want for dinner, or where we want to go on holidays. These are the times we’re dealing with differences about “big stuff”: whether to have a child, whether to relocate the family overseas, whether to take on the care of an elderly relative, whether to forgive after infidelity. Pain will be part of this experience, and sharing it as part of the process is, of course, what “speaking up” is all about. Your partner may not be able to provide the solution you want, but your job is to stay honest, share your experience and awareness, and collaborate with each other. It’s a challenging process, but one which will develop your relationship in the most amazing ways, as you both find your way through.

Want to learn more about communication, assertiveness, and conflict resolution in your own relationship? Contact Pamela and get started.