Ten Must-Read Principles To Guide Your Communication In Relationships
Reduce unnecessary conflict by fine tuning what and how you speak.
There are a few different kinds of conflict. First, and most obvious, is disagreement about an issue or situation -- substantive conflict. The second, and in fact more common in marriages and relationships is conflict around what is said, and how it's said. There are ways to be a peaceful communicator so that toxic communication gets reduced while at the same time enhancing closeness.
Below are ten guiding principles for you to help you reduce "conflict starter" communication.
If you would like to apply these to your everyday life, you might want to choose one of these at a time to work on. It may take you about a week of paying attention to your own communication style to identify how and in what way you can change. Don't be deceived by the simplicity of the commandments -- it's NOT easy to change.
The Ten Relationship Communication Commandments
- Don't veil a comment in a question. Be more direct, and you'll be more likely to get to solutions both of you can live with.
- Don't “bomb” someone with an emotional response that provides insufficient information to conduct a constructive conversation. Don't say, “That's stupid”, first because it‟s an attack, and second, because it contains no information to have a dialogue about whatever you are commenting on.
- If your intent is to open up a discussion to help the other person cope with something that's upsetting them, do so in a way that recognizes that he or she has a right to feel the way he or she does. And that those feelings are real.
- Do balance the importance of your feelings and opinions with those of the other person. Don't demean the feelings or opinions of an-other, but neither should you give up your own. Balance helps create a relationship with less pent up resentment.
- Do focus on solutions to the issues less than how the other person has brought up the issues. Nobody is perfect. Give leeway for errors.
- Do offer to help rather than judge from the sidelines. Judging is easy and usually point-less. Offers to help can turn a conversation around very quickly, if they are offered in the spirit of finding a solution that works for both of you.
- Do focus on the present and the future, and NOT the past. The only value for looking at the past is to inform what can be done NOW, or next time. The past can‟t be changed. The future is yours to mold together.
- Don't blame. Blame is about the past, and does nothing but cause anger and hurt.
- Do be direct. Say what you mean, and mean what you say, and eliminate the indirectness of passive-aggressive phrases, and sarcasm.
- Do take responsibility for what you do and say. Don't take responsibility for what others do and say, but it's good to keep in mind that in any relationship, people influence each other, but do not control each other.
You might be surprised at how powerful these principles are when it comes to turning around relationships, or simply improving them. But try them out. And don't be surprised if it takes attention and focus to implement each of the principles. Be alert to situations where you violate these rules, not to blame yourself or the other person, but to learn from our mistakes.
That's because while we learn very basic principles of communication as children, we do not get too much tutelage on communicating in ways that will grease the skids of relationships. The result is that we often don't think we have communication problems, or the need to learn more about effective, conflict free interactions.
Trust me, mistakes WILL be made, so treat interactions as opportunities to learn.