Have you been finding that your conversations are turning into arguments? Are you and your loved one struggling to find common ground? Next time this happens to you, try using these 7 communication skills.
Communication Skill #1: Know When to Pause
When that lively conversation begins to slip into an argument, know when to pause the discussion and take a step back. Agree with your partner to come back to the conversation in 5-10 minutes, but that for now, you need a break. Pausing helps to put the brakes on things and prevent both of you from making things worse. Use this moment to practice a breathing exercise or similar technique to calm down so that when you return to talking, you are more relaxed.
Communication Skill #2: Listen vs. Reacting
The next step is to do your best to listen to your partner instead of reacting to them. Listening allows us to become more open and to understand where the other person is coming from. Reacting only drives the argument further and can create a competition to “one-up” each other. The best way to prevent an argument from occurring is to listen!
Communication Skill #3: Slow Down Your Speech
Have you ever noticed that when two people are having an argument their speech speeds up? There are several reasons for this, for example:
- Trying to cut off the other person to dominate the discussion.
- Feeling energized that your point is right and the other person is wrong.
- Experiencing an adrenaline rush as things escalate.
So slowing down is important when you are talking. Speaking in a calm, measured way shows that you are in control and that you don’t want to argue.
Communication Skill #4: Avoid the “You Always/You Never” Trap
“You always” is a terrible way to highlight another person’s behavior. It implies that the individual is constantly doing the behavior. In reality, there may be specific instances when you observe a behavior, such as forgetting something or being insensitive. The same goes for “you never,” as in, “You never do anything nice for me!” Is that really true? These statements create broad generalizations that are meant to hurt the other person, instead of helping them change a behavior to something more positive.
Communication Skill #5: Keep it Short and Sweet
That old saying, “Keep it short and sweet” applies to these kinds of conversations. Avoid going off on a tangent. That just makes things worse and distracts you and your partner from the actual issues at hand. You will lose your partner’s attention and your message will get lost in the dialogue. Instead, stay on point and be concise. If you know the conversation is going to be difficult, write down some bullet points to keep you focused and on track.
Communication Skill #6: Be Aware of Body Language
Body language is an important part of how we communicate as a species. Yet we don’t always pay attention to how our nonverbal communication contributes or detracts from a conversation. In particular, be aware of how your facial expressions are coming off and whether they match what you are saying.
Communication Skill #7: End on a Positive Note
Ending on a positive note doesn’t mean that both of you need to feel happy or even satisfied, but don’t walk away angry. The anger will brew and fester inside you until the next time you and the other person meet, at which time it can come back to the surface. Try to find some common ground with each other and come to some kind of agreement before parting company.
A lively conversation doesn’t have to devolve into an argument as long as you practice effective communication. Next time, use these skills to stay on track and resolve the problem instead of letting it divide you.
When you need a little more
We hope that you find these 7 communication skills tips useful and that they can help you rebuild communication in your relationship. Sometimes, though, a little extra might be needed; and that’s where professional help is a must. Speaking with a relationship counsellor can help you have those tough conversations that so often result in a row. Having a neutral person in the room can help the conversation flow, without stone-throwing, and help each person see the other’s perspective.
If you would like to know more about how relationship counselling can help you, why not call us on 0151 329 3637 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Alternatively, fill out our online referral form. We would be happy to speak with you.