Emotional Fitness

Harness the power of emotion to deepen your love with your partner, become more successful at work, and more

9 Communication Tips to Help Improve Your Life

Communication is the most important thing in all our relationships.

Many people struggle with learning to fight fairly. What needs to be said (and how to say it) and what not to say are just a few of the challenges facing those who can't seem to argue appropriately. Learning to state your needs without adding fuel to the fire is a relationship necessity. Here some communication tools for resolving disagreements and making your interactions easier and more satisfying.

  • Verbal attacks, bad language, and continually criticizing someone are ways of deconstructing your connection to your team. These words chip away at the foundation of your relationships by weakening your loved ones or your team mates self-esteem and ability to see what it is that really needs healing. If there are behaviors that you need someone to change, point them out, using solid examples along with suggestions of how you would like things to be different. Often, people are unaware of how their words can affect those they live and work with and how simple changes in language can make a vast difference. Just making the agreement to stop swearing is a powerful tool that will immediately lower the tension in your home and office and you'll also be more respected.
  • By staying on topic, you can avoid having a conversation disintegrate into an uncomfortable argument. Bringing up the distant past can be a way of not allowing closure to the issue at hand. It can also be a way of punishing the other person for your pain. Keep your conversation focused on the current problem and solve it. Then, once you have made appropriate adjustments and come to a conclusion, spend a moment to go over what was said. Making sure you are both on the same page will prevent you from having to deal with the same issue repeatedly.
  • Clarity can be difficult when emotional issues arise. Sometimes our feelings take over and we either get scared by our feelings or are blinded with anger. Being open and honest with your partner, even if you are anxious or hurt, is the best way to resolve your issues. Clamming up, sending double messages, or being evasive will only serve to frustrate both of you. Say what you need to say in an appropriate manner so that you can move on and enjoy your life together.
  • Learning to never terrorize your loved ones or business associates is one of the most valuable communication tools you can use. So many deals and relationships would be saved if one or the other person refused to devalue his or her client or lover with threats. These inappropriate remarks are actually a way of saying to the people you care for, "I'm hiding the fear I really feel, but I sense this isn't going to go the way I want it to." It would be much more productive if you could honestly say, "I need for some clarity, let's chat."
  • When discussions digress into yelling matches, taking a time out is a tried and true method of keeping things on track. Either person can call a time out, but both of you need to agree before hand that you will commit to completing the conversation, no matter how uncomfortable it may have become. Leaving things unfinished is an invitation to further misunderstanding and hurt feelings.
  • Interrupting anyone when he or she is sharing their feelings is a way of discounting what the other person is saying. By cutting him or her off you are saying, "You're wrong, I'm right and my ideas are more important than yours." Instead of blurting out what you are thinking, chose to remember your thought and share it with the other person when he or she is finished. The interrupting technique is also a way on not listening to your someone's feelings and that also causes emotional pain.
  • Disagreements are a part of communication and a part of life. Acknowledging that it is okay for a teammate or life-mate to have and express a differing opinion, rather than stuffing his or her feelings, is a sign of a mature and nurturing personal or business relationship. In the long run, differences can make for more interesting conversation and work. Besides, having someone agree with everything you feel can take some of the mystery out of life.
  • If either of you are not in a place to communicate when another person needs to, you have the right to say so. However, you must agree to have the conversation sometime within a reasonable period of time. I don't think it's a good idea to let things go unsaid for more than a day or two.
  • When something is bothering you, it is important to bring it up as your issue instead of pointing the finger at that person. Owning your emotions and using "I statements" to describe how you are feeling keeps things clear and allows whomever you are speaking with to hear what it is you are saying to him or her.

"I" statements are where you talk about how you feel and give a corrective action rather than just telling him or her what you think they are doing wrong. For example, instead of saying, "You always hurt leave the dirty work for me" say, "It bugs me when you don't complete the projects we are working on."

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Sharing your feelings in this way minimizes defensiveness because you are not blaming. It will help both of you create agreements that will make your working relationship healthier and happier.

If having unpleasant exchanges with loved ones or co-workers is the norm in your life, you have to change the way you communicate or your chances of achieving success will be greatly diminished.

Following these guidelines will help everyone involved understand and communicate with each other much better. Remember that communication is the most important thing in our relationships, both business and professional, and that we can all get better at it.

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Barton Goldsmith, Ph.D., is a psychotherapist, columnist, and radio host. His latest book is The Happy Couple: How to Make Happiness a Habit One Little Loving Thing at a Time.

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