Sunday, May 8, 2016

A Ridiculously Good Relationship Series Week 1: How to Communicate With Your Partner

All of us have needs and desires that are essential to our well-being. A fulfilling relationship helps fill those wants and needs for both partners. Most partners want to be able to fulfill the other's needs, but the necessary component for this to occur successfully is something that most relationships lack....proper communication.

Proper communication is an art. It is the most necessary of skills involved in a happy relationship, whether it be platonic or romantic. Unfortunately, proper communication is a skill that most people do not develop. Many great relationships and connections fail due to a lack of understanding. Fortunately, this gap in understanding can be easily closed.

The Most Important Part of Communication
I think the most important aspect of communication is clarity. Clarity is the goal when it comes to speaking your truth and listening to another's. Clarity is the golden standard, and reaching it means that proper communication has been performed.

When clarity is achieved, both parties are on the same page. The message is translated flawlessly from one person to another. There is common and steady ground from which to build from.

How do you get clarity?
For the speaker, being able to communicate with clarity means that they know what they want to convey. Knowing what one wants to convey requires a bit of thought, introspection, and conviction.

Everyone knows how hard it is to listen to and understand someone who isn't sure of what they are saying and who is still in the midst of figuring out what their message is. The best way to avoid this is to know what the purpose of one's message is.

For example, if you are upset because you feel like your partner hasn't been paying enough attention to you, then the purpose behind speaking to your partner about the issue is getting more attention. That is the main goal. That is the priority.

In order to achieve that goal, it is helpful to understand what is keeping that goal from happening. Therein lies another purpose: understanding why the partner has not been giving as much attention lately.

From there on, the solution can be worked on.

In that example, there are only 3 purposes behind communication. If the speaker thinks about those 3 purposes before confronting their partner, they will gain much more insight and clarity. This is definitely a reminder to think before you speak.

Thinking before you speak is best done when you're calm and composed. If you try to speak to your partner about an issue when you are fired up, you will destroy the clarity you want to achieve. Your emotions will get the best of you, you won't be able to think coherently, and you will lose purpose behind your message. Your partner will also find it very difficult to even want to understand you when you are screaming at them or throwing angry insults, etc.

To cap this section off, as someone who wants to get what they want from their partner, you have to think of the purpose behind your message (what do you want), calm down, and communicate your feelings and concerns with clarity. Keep your message streamlined and to the point. Make it as simple as possible. Be vulnerable.

Now the other very important aspect of proper communication is LISTENING.

I am afraid that most of us are pretty bad listeners. Proper listening entails really trying to understand what the speaker is saying, instead of reacting to their message.

That is a very important point there- to listen properly, we have to take in the message and refrain from responding. We can't be getting angry at all of their concerns and accusations and questions. We can't react angrily because of their tone. We have to choose to take it all in, and then respond.

Proper listening requires us to put our initial reactions on the backburner so that we may properly empathize with our partner and gain understanding of what they are trying to convey. We have to imagine ourselves as them and put ourselves into their shoes. We have to see their point of view, even though we may not agree with it.

Seeing another's point of view does not mean we have to agree with it or adopt it. It simply means we have gained enough perspective into their reality that we have gained clarity.

To cap this off, a proper listener tries to really take in what is being said and conveyed, and does not focus primarily on how it is being conveyed (tone), or reacting to what is being said.

From then on, the speaker and listener change roles and discuss the issue at hand.

To take the pressure off the discussion, some helpful reassurances to communicate are:

  • you don't need a definite answer now
  • you can take time to think about it more before responding
  • the solution doesn't have to be found right now
Proper communication can still take time no matter how much clarity and will to understand one another is present. Communication is a process, and it is more so a process that reflects our own inner transformation as we interact with a world that we help create. Our words do so much to pave our realities- communication is how we create our lives. 

Happy communicating!