By Aneesha Perkins, LPC
We all have different life experiences and, therefore, have learned how to communicate differently. A common challenge in relationships or marriages is learning how to communicate effectively. After all, one of the most essential elements to good lovin' is good communication. As we celebrate Black history, wellness, and love this month (and every month) – check out these four tips that can strengthen your communication skills with your partner:
Send Positive Messages With Your Body – What does your body say to your partner? Your body talks and plays a critical role in how your partner receives your message. With that being said, we often learn how to express and convey verbal and non-verbal at an early age. For some, it may require more awareness and practice in understanding the non-verbal messages that we send during conversations with others. It’s easy to say one thing, yet our body might be communicating something else. Non-verbal messages sent through our tone of voice, volume of speech, hand gestures, and pace speak volumes. Some non-verbal behaviors can be distracting such as tapping fingers and crossed arms or disrespectful (e.g., turning away as your partner speaks, sighing or groaning) and communicate that you are not interested or invested in the conversation. On the other hand, open body language looks like leaning in, occasional eye contact, head nods, and consented physical touch. Additionally, leaving the cell phone in another room and meeting at a time that works for each person helps to minimize external distractions.
Target the Problem, Rather Than Each Other – During a disagreement, have you ever gotten lost in blaming each other and totally forgotten about the actual issue? It may be easy to begin pointing the finger at your loved one, but no one wins with that approach. On the other hand, try to dig deeper and work to find a mutually beneficial solution. Next time an issue arises, you and your partner should come to the conversation with a few possible solutions, collaboratively weighing out the pros and cons of each option.
Start the Discussion With Their Strengths – When your partner starts off a conversation with your growth areas it's easy to tune them out and everything else they say afterward, right? The first few words that come out of your mouth are the most important words when working through conflict. Start the conversation off by telling your partner about their strengths or what they've handled well in the situation you're addressing. Be honest and sincere. In preparation for the next challenging conversation that arises, write down 2-3 strengths that your partner possesses. Check out the InnoPsych's Thrive card deck for more prompts that foster positive communication.
Connect Face to Face – Ever got upset over a text message because your partner's words rubbed you the wrong way? While texting is another excellent method of sending and receiving messages, it may not be the best mode for serious conversations. If possible, save the serious discussions for face-to-face meet-ups or, if not possible, phone calls/facetime. It makes a huge difference when you can see your partner's facial expressions, body language, and hear their tone during a conversation.
Poor communication can make relationships challenging, while clear and concise communication can make relationships thrive. Communication is how we connect and the pathway to true intimacy. If you're looking to improve your communication skills with your partner, try out these tips and let us know how it goes.
Aneesha Perkins, MA,LPC, is a licensed professional counselor and fourth-year Clinical Psychology doctoral candidate at the Chicago School of Professional Psychology (TCSPP). She obtained her Master of Arts degree in Counseling Psychology from Trinity Christian College and a Master’s in Clinical Psychology degree from TCSPP in Washington, D.C. Overall, she enjoys helping provide women with tools to discover wholeness and holistic healing. She also enjoys teaching children about emotional wellness. Her clinical interests include self-care, self-love, stress-reduction techniques, generational patterns, and trauma.