How To Communicate In Relationships

It can be hard to say what we mean, so here’s three tips for communicating with anyone about anything

All relationships need good communication, whether they’re romantic relationships, friendships, or family members. Communicating in a way that helps everyone feel heard and appreciated doesn’t just happen by accident — sometimes it’s a skill we have to learn. So here’s three tips for good communication in any kind of relationship.

1. Listen

Sounds simple, right? Obvious, even. After all, if you’re having a conversation and someone else is talking, that means you’re listening. Except, this isn’t always how it works. We may think of listening as something that just kind of happens. One person talks and you hear their words and we think that’s how listening works. But actually listening is something that you do actively and requires more attention than we think. 

For example, have you ever been really annoyed or upset by something big? Like your family or friend did something that really upset you. But instead of talking about that issue, you find yourself complaining to anyone who’ll listen about something small, perhaps that the bus didn’t stop on time. The bus isn’t the issue here, the big family or friend dilemma is.

It’s the same with relationships. If your partner is worried that you don’t spend enough time together, but instead complains that they dislike your friend, maybe that’s not what they’re actually trying to say. If you listen, you may be able to tell that this isn’t something your partner would normally say, and ask them what’s up.

This is a hard skill, because sometimes it includes listening out for what someone doesn’t say, and asking them if they want to talk. If someone is saying things that seem a bit off, you may want to check in and see if something else is going on that they’re not talking about. It might feel like hard work, but it’s a way to having more meaningful conversations, without misunderstanding each other.

2. Say What You Mean

This can help the person who’s doing the listening. If you’re saying the exact thing you mean (as in, ‘I’m worried because we don’t see each other and it makes me scared you don’t like me as much anymore’), rather than glossing over the issue (‘why do you never like my pictures on Instagram?’), then the person you’re talking with knows what the issue really is.

It’s difficult. It means you have to put yourself on the line a little bit and sometimes picking an argument over something insignificant feels easier. But, remember, communication is about work. A difficult or awkward conversation that actually gets you closer to resolving your problems is worth more than fifty arguments started instead.

3. Don’t Wait, But Take A Breath

It’s never good to bottle up your feelings about something. If you have an issue, it’s best to talk about it when it first crops up than leaving it to become a much bigger problem in your mind. But do make sure you’ve thought a little bit about what you’re going to say. Don’t launch straight in with a blame-game. But also don’t talk about it straight away if it’s something that makes you really angry. Approach the situation when you’re calm.

Work Together To Improve Your Communication

Communicating well in relationships and friendships can be difficult. Everyone communicates in slightly different ways, and sometimes we aren’t honest with how we feel, which can lead to misunderstandings and hurt feelings. Remember it’s not one person’s responsibility to fix any communication issues in your relationship. Both of you need to work together to improve your communication. 

So next time a conversation isn’t going exactly how you planned, try out one of our top tips and see if it helps. Good communication doesn’t just happen, it requires work, but it’s so worth the extra effort. If you can practice these three tips, your communication skills may improve, and, hopefully, your relationships too.  

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Page last reviewed: 25 Nov 2020