By Margot Brown
If you want to know how to communicate in relationships, effectively and decrease the arguments within your relationship, here’s what NOT to do:
1. Do not blame.
What does that mean? It means if you are pointing your index finger at your partner, take a look because there are three more fingers (middle, ring, baby) pointing right back at you.
So, OWN your part of this communication dance, by thinking outside the box. What is your role in this argument? Can you see it from your spouse/partner’s perspective, even a little bit?
You know that saying, “It takes two to tango?” Well, you are the other participating partner. Can you say it without blame?
Try saying: “I think when you leave your socks on the floor. I don’t even think, I just get angry.” Or: “I feel like I’m the nag and I hate being the nag, can we figure out how to make this work, the two of us together?”
Remember, you have a lot more power in this relationship than you think. After all, you’re the one reading this article and you want it to get better. So do your part and do it more positively (no blame).
2. Do not talk about the past.
The past only builds walls between you. Yes, you do need at times to discuss the past hurts and misunderstandings. However, before you go there, you need to have multiple successful discussions that end without a huge blowup.
When you can master some discussions without big blowups, then you will gain confidence and be able to handle the more delicate topics that have been festering for a while, specifically, the ones that you either don’t get talk about or only get brought up in the middle of a huge argument.
The smaller successes will build your confidence and your trust for yourself and for each other. Then, you can find the right time, the right space — when the kids are out of the house, when you aren’t tired late at night, when you haven’t been drinking… you get the idea.
3. Do not keep score.
One lady I knew counted how many diapers she changed versus her husband! Do you think that was working for them? I don’t think so. It is vital, that you let it go, stop keeping score and just do what you’ve got to do without a gripe or complaint, or comparison.
If you did it out of joy, you might even thank your partner for contributing… and your spouse might start volunteering to help more and more (that’s what happened when she stopped counting diapers).
4. Do not assume.
No matter how good of a mind reader you really think you are… you’re not! Assuming leads to misassumptions. I know you do NOT want someone to name your feelings for you. So, the reverse is true also.
Some techniques on how to NOT ASSUME can be:
- Listen carefully. Do not interrupt your partner; let them complete their thought.
- Clarify. Ask a question if you don’t understand.
- Tell your partner what you heard them say, just to ensure that you got it right.
This is powerful because it validates to your spouse that you heard them AND that makes them immediately feel more connected to you.
5. Do not use labels.
If your partner says to you, “That’s ridiculous!” Well, that means, “You’re ridiculous.” Or, “You’re stupid!”
Basically, any negative label is a no no. The reason labels are not productive, is that they can be hurtful, inaccurate and it is the beginning of slinging mud at each other. The result is ONE HUGE WALL BETWEEN YOU.
It just makes it that much more difficult to communicate and be accepting of each other, when you or your partner are inauthentic. A label is a category, a category is a box, and a box is limiting, restrictive and rigid. It does not allow for fluidity or flowing communication between two people.