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Effective Communication: Improving Your Relationships

people in a hall

Good communication is essential for any relationship; building communication skills promotes trust and connection and improves conflict resolution.

Effective communication is about understanding the other's perspective.

Communication involves expressing and understanding, and given the complexity, there's no such thing as overcommunication. Our communication habits are primarily shaped through observation in early childhood and then evolved by education and social interactions. While we adapt our conversations using varied language in different relationships, miscommunication remains a common daily challenge despite our efforts.

Communication is influenced by:

  • levels of awareness

  • backgrounds

  • experiences

  • triggers

  • communication styles 

These factors shape how individuals experience communication, creating personalised filters for expressing and understanding. Additionally, non-verbal communication plays a significant role, complicating good communication even further. Message delivery can introduce complexities and potential traps, especially with emotions involved.

Even silence is a form of communication as: 

  • Body language comprises 55% of the message

  • Tone and emphasis contribute 38%

  • The impact of content or words is a low 7%.

two hands forming a heart

There is no communication that is so simple that it cannot be misunderstood.

Luigina Sgarro

The Relationship Expectations Gap

We put high expectations in our relationships, raising frustration levels when we feel misunderstood or unmet expectations. We have many expectations; our partner should be the source of our happiness, know what we need, fulfil our needs, understand our mood swings, guess our wishes, be ready to step in when we need help and possibly do this the way we want. While these expectations may sound attainable, we forget that our partners are separate individuals. Clear communication is essential for them to understand our expectations, and it's crucial to acknowledge that they may have different needs.

Expectation gaps are the main cause of communication failures.

Expectations gaps are filled with assumptions, judgement and resentment. These emotions make open communication challenging and lead to defensiveness.

Instead, be curious about your partner, explore their values and needs, and appreciate that understanding the other is the secret to any fulfilling relationship.

Effective Communication Fundamentals.

Communication is essential for happy and healthy relationships. Remembering that body language and tone must match the message, unless we are natural communicators, is easier said than done. Therefore, the message deliverer has to be mindfully present and pay attention to how the message is received. 

Body language is key. Miscommunication happens when the message delivered does not match facial expression, posture, voice speed and tone.

Effective communication will come from acknowledging that every person is unique. Your partner may tell you precisely what they need, but it requires your awareness of how they convey the message to understand it. 

Miscommunication is a missed opportunity to build trust and intimacy.

The relationship with your partner exposed both to a heightened level of vulnerability, increasing the potential for projections and recollections of past experiences, enhancing the likelihood of misunderstandings. Consequently, any effort to improve communication in a relational context will positively reward outcomes.

Relaxed couple

It’s important to make sure that we’re being with each other

in a way that heals, not in a way that wounds.”

Barack Obama

Cultural Differences

Underestimating the importance of non-verbal language when communicating with someone from a different background might also result in miscommunication. Cultural awareness is fundamental when trying to communicate with people from different backgrounds.

Moreover, body language communication is strongly culture-related; some gestures mean different things in different cultures. Body language and tone become even more relevant for individuals with English as a second language, making watching for cues in the other person's reaction to your message vital to ensure it is received as intended. Often, it is enough to smile, speak slower or reframe the message. 

The Message and The Situation.

Stressful situations may affect how a message is delivered, as being mindful of posture, tone, and words can be challenging in trying conditions. Having a conversation amidst a conflict increases the risk of creating more damage. Taking time off and waiting for the right moment allows for more openness from all parties involved.

We all have filters built up through our life experiences; therefore, each individual interprets situations slightly differently. These filters are partly conscious; others are subconscious, and it's essential to be aware that we all have them as they construe our biases, define our attitudes and stereotypes and affect our thoughts and behaviours. 

couple watching the sunset

Opening up a conversation can open up a world of new possibilities.

Michelle Lederman

Final Thoughts

Effective communication aims to understand both parties without winning an argument or deciding who's right. Therefore, it is important to remain respectful of the other person, even when you don't like their actions or decisions. Be mindful that the other person has the same right to have a different opinion as you do. Despite the challenges, the effort put into improving communication demonstrates your care for others and your commitment to building healthier relationships and will soon show results.



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