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Improve relationships by improving communication skills

 

Last updated 1/17/2018 at Noon



linkWhen people stop to think about it, they all realize that good communications are vitally important in building strong, positive relationships with others. The problem is that most people are leading such busy – often stressful lives – that they forget to really think about communicating effectively.

Good communication does require extra focus and effort. It requires understanding how to communicate and having a desire to improve.

One starting point in overcoming communication difficulties is understanding that, in most cases, men and women actually do communicate differently, according to researchers in the field. Compared to women, most men tend to talk less, are reluctant to discuss feelings, are quicker to seek solutions, interrupt more often and are quicker to withdraw when confronted by the other person.

To improve communication skills with others, especially with a spouse or other family members in regard to major issues, people need to get past those communication differences. There are various techniques that can help.

Simple things like making eye contact can make a real difference. Also, use “I” statements, rather than “you” accusations which automatically will put the listener on the defensive.

It’s important to avoid words like “always” and “never” since such absolutes are virtually never true. Similarly, name calling, or being critical or sarcastic are all ways that hinder, rather than improve communication.

An essential element in communicating better is to listen better. It’s easy to assume what the other person is saying and to start formulating a reply before they’re done.

Instead, what take the time to listen carefully to what’s being expressed. It often helps to repeat what was just heard to make sure it was really understand properly.

Most people tend to be unaware of their body language or voice tone, but these non verbal issues can communicate a number of messages. When using a mocking tone, rolling the eyes, putting hands on hips or crossing the arms, the speaker is actually sending a negative message. But when the speaker maintains eye contact, keeps a positive or at least a neutral expression and really listens, they’re giving positive communication a real chance.

Poor communication skills are one of the major reasons couples facing problems consult with professional counselors. Communicating well in a relationship takes practice and work, but it pays big dividends in the long run.

Counseling Corner is provided by the American Counseling Association. Send comments and questions to [email protected] or visit the ACA website at www.counseling.org.

 

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