Relationship Guide: Episode 2- Communication
Healthy communication is accepting, warm, non-confrontational, truthful and beneficial (at the same time), energized (interested-attuned, somewhat enthusiastic or interested), hopeful, and focused on a primary, goal and value-based direction. It is not about being right (who cares if you are a good debater?), so humility is also an important aspect. This might be difficult if you feel hurt, or if you feel misunderstood. All the same, it remains important to maintain the tone and attitude that encompasses all of the aforementioned values. If you are going to have a healthy relationship, you are going to have to talk, and it is important to make those talks as healthy and welcoming as possible.
Communication skills are essentially made of wisdom and rules that offer guidance that will increase the likelihood that you will have effective interactions. After all, relationships are the cumulative result of thousands of interactions. Doesn't it make sense that you should strive to make the most out of each of these moments? Remember that negative emotions constitute challenges toward effective communication. Give yourself time to memorize the rules, practice the skills, and learn about yourself in terms of where you have the most difficulty "following" the rules of loving and healthy communication. You will learn a lot by simply limiting yourself to the rules of loving communication, although you have to understand where the difficulties come form. The idea is that you learn to manage those difficulties more intentionally, rather than impulsively subjecting yourself and others to the feelings. It takes practice.
The following general rules will help:
If you have something to say or especially to complain about, make sure you are doing so in a spirit of cooperation and helpfulness. Make sure it is truthful, helpful, kind, and necessary.
If you must complain about something, make sure you know not only what you dislike, but can briefly state or ask for what you need.
Learn to be positive with and understanding of your partner, especially when you have something to complain about. Always remember that they are probably a reasonable person and trying for something positive as much as you are.
Of course these are foundational elements to communciation, but they are incredibly important prerequisites for relationship health. Reflect as much on both victories for the relationship and on mistakes. Take notes on what you did well and what needs improvement, and keep reading for more information on how you can be a force good in your relationships!
About the author: Brock Caffee has practiced Marriage and Family Therapy for 20 years. He is in private practice is in Lawrence, KS. He has experience as an lecturer, clinical supervisor and manager. Life experiences include opportunities for insight into the world of parenting, divorce, step-parenting, and addiction recovery.