Communication For Lasting Relationships
It's no secret that stable, long-term relationships, whether with a spouse, or with children, take a lot of work. But the payoffs are more than worth it. And there are ways of communicating that ensure better, more enjoyable relationships.
We live in a highly distracted age. It's not uncommon at a restaurant to see couples glancing at their cell phones, or outright texting or surfing social media during dinner. But while we're busy keeping up with all of the other people in our lives, we're missing out on connecting with the person in front of us. Putting away distractions and focusing on the immediate conversation goes a long way to communicating attentiveness - literally and emotionally.
Make an effort to be an active listener. Ask questions that probe deeper. Reflect back what you are hearing, including any emotions you sense underneath the words. Allow silence between your comments and questions to encourage the other person to speak up.
Talk about fun stuff too - not just school (with the kids) or the kids (with your spouse). Connect with them by bringing up topics that interest you both - a tv show you enjoy watching together, or a new fact you learned that they would appreciate.
Make a point of noticing when the other person does you appreciate. Tell them what specific attributes or attitudes or actions you value about them.
When conflict arises:
*Don't be afraid to inject humor to lessen the tension. But try not to direct it at the person with whom you are arguing.
*Avoid being defensive. Seek to understand the other person's perspective. And refrain from leveling criticisms at others, but instead share concerns rationally, unemotionally. Relationship expert John Gottman identifies both defensiveness and criticism as behaviors that are corrosive to relationships.
*Demonstrate affection - a gentle touch, a kind look, an endearing word, even when you aren't feeling affectionate, can diffuse heated emotions. It's a reminder that you are for each other and not against.
Good relationships are key to a happy life. Communicate well to keep them healthy.