We live in the era of non-stop and instant communication. However, we may also be living in the era of ineffective communication. This spells big trouble in many areas of our lives. From career to family and beyond, how we communicate is essential. It’s particularly essential when it comes to your relationship as a couple.
The equation is incredibly simple. Ineffective communication, if left unchecked, can threaten the health of your relationship.
How can ineffective communication hurt your relationship?
- Creates distance: Communication connects us. In its absence, our bond weakens. This cycle results in—you guessed it—more poor communication.
- Misunderstandings: Obviously, ineffective communication leads to many misinterpretations and misunderstandings. Such situations, then, have the potential to create more unhealthy communication.
- Passive-aggressive behavior: If you’re not getting your message across in a clear and healthy way, there are other methods. Unfortunately, many of those other methods create more dysfunction.
- Makes problem-solving virtually impossible: For most problems, we suggest communication as a part of the solution. But what if communication is the issue?
This is just a sampling of the issues you may face. Perhaps you’re already facing them. Either way, the time is now to take steps to address the communication breakdown. The following are some suggestions to get the process started.
6 Ways to Fix Ineffective Communication Before it Causes Relationship Problems
1. Admit there’s an urgent problem.
This is sort of a way to say: Start communicating about not communicating. It’s not easy and it sure isn’t fun. But one of you must take the lead and put the issue on the table. We have a problem and it’s called ineffective communication.
2. Learn how to listen.
This is easier said than done. Listening is much more than just waiting your turn to speak. Your body language matters. Ask questions but don’t interrupt. Demonstrate to your partner that they have your full focus, attention and understanding.
3. Step away before anger wins.
Perhaps the most common form of ineffective communication is letting emotions rule the day. Anger is normal. Reacting in anger is not productive. There’s much value in knowing when to step away. Healthy communication involves such timing and awareness.
4. Learn how to apologize.
Every relationship will provide many reasons to apologize. But not all apologies are created equal. The worst example is how celebrities say, “I’m sorry if anyone was offended.” Points to remember:
- Acknowledge your behavior
- Take responsibility
- Show genuine remorse
- Promise that it won’t happen again
- Do the work to make sure it doesn’t happen again
5. Respect the process.
Communication is not a finished product. It’s a never ending journey. It requires patience. In fact, it requires lots of patience. But that’s not automatically a bad thing. Recognizing a lengthy process requires commitment—which is ideal in a relationship.
6. Commit together to change.
Ineffective communication offers you the opportunity to come together as a team. As stated above, it’s a process. Imagine how powerful it can be to commit to it together. So many aspects of a relationship require a big picture view. From career to children and beyond, we commit to our relationships long term. Add communication to that list and embrace the chance to keep your relationship evolving.
Communication can be easier when you have a guide
If your problem is ineffective communication, how in the world do you start the process of fixing it? How do you effectively communicate about ineffective communication? Having a mediator present can be incredibly helpful. In couples counseling, your therapist can guide you along the tricky road of communication. You’ll have a safe space to air out your grievances and then create strategies for change.