How to Practice Healthy Communication in Relationships

by | Apr 24, 2023 | Adulting, Counseling, Couples Counseling, Online Therapy, Self-Esteem, Single

How to Practice Healthy Communication in Relationships

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Have you ever felt like you and your partner, friend, or family member just can’t seem to get on the same page? Perhaps there is passive-aggression, bickering, or one of you gives the other the “silent treatment” often. Miscommunication and misunderstandings can cause rifts in even the strongest relationships. But fear not, because healthy communication is the key to overcoming these challenges and building stronger connections, and it is never too late to start learning skills in healthy communication. This blog post will explore some tips and strategies for practicing healthy communication in your relationships, so you can avoid common pitfalls and create deeper, more meaningful connections. Get ready to take your communication skills to the next level! 

Healthy communication is a cornerstone of any successful relationship. No matter who you are communicating with, how you speak and listen to each other has a huge impact on the quality of your relationship and the way you view yourself. Unfortunately, communication doesn’t always come easy—you are trying to find common ground between two very different individuals, after all! It can be challenging to maintain effective communication over time, especially during times or situations in which your feelings are hurt, or you feel an increase in stress. However, by practicing healthy communication habits, you can build stronger relationships and avoid common communication pitfalls.

How to Practice Healthy Communication: 

  • Listen actively and with empathy.

One of the most important aspects of healthy communication is active listening. This means paying close attention to what the other person is saying, and demonstrating that you understand and care about their perspective. Active listening involves making eye contact, asking clarifying questions, and responding with empathy.

When you listen actively and with empathy, you create a safe space for the other person to express themselves fully. This can help build trust and strengthen your connection. On the other hand, listening with a closed-off mindset/body language, or with a judgemental attitude, can cause the person you’re speaking with to close themselves off as well, or even lash out because they feel unheard or disrespected. 

  • Avoid interrupting or dismissing the other person’s feelings.

Speaking of listening with empathy, it’s important to remember that everyone’s feelings are valid, even if you don’t agree with them. Interrupting or dismissing someone’s feelings can make them feel like their perspective isn’t valued or heard, which can damage the relationship. 

Instead of interrupting or dismissing, try to stay engaged in the conversation and validate the other person’s feelings. You don’t have to agree with them, but you can still show that you understand and care about their point of view. Remember, there is a big difference between dismissing and challenging. You can have a healthy debate with someone without shooting their views down or criticizing them. In fact, asking someone to speak more about why they feel a certain way may help you see a point of view you never did before! 

  • Use “I” statements instead of “you” statements.

When you’re communicating your own feelings or needs, it’s helpful to use “I” statements instead of “you” statements. For example, instead of saying, “You always do this,” try saying, “I feel frustrated when this happens.” Using “I” statements helps to avoid blame or defensiveness, and can make it easier to have a constructive conversation about the issue at hand. This can help tremendously when trying to get a point across in an argument with a loved one. This way, instead of your partner feeling blamed for the problem, they get to see your point of view and how the situation hurt your feelings. They may have never known that their actions caused you to feel this way, so it is never okay to assume someone had malicious intent. 

  • Take responsibility for your own emotions.

Similar to the previous point, it’s important to remember that you are responsible for your own emotions and reactions. While other people’s words and actions can certainly influence how you feel, ultimately you are in control of how you respond. Taking responsibility for your own emotions can help you communicate more effectively and avoid getting caught up in arguments or misunderstandings. Instead of blaming the other person for how you feel, focus on expressing your own needs and feelings in a constructive way. That way, the two of you can come to a compromise or solution without further exacerbating the issue. 

Mindfulness is the practice of staying present and aware at the moment, without judgment. When you’re communicating with someone, practicing mindfulness can help you stay focused on the conversation and avoid getting distracted by your own thoughts or emotions. This is the perfect action to take when you feel the discussion heating up and/or your emotions begin to rise. To practice mindfulness, try taking a few deep breaths before the conversation, and then focus on the present moment. If you find yourself getting distracted, gently bring your attention back to the conversation.

  • Give and receive feedback constructively.

Giving and receiving feedback is an important part of healthy communication. However, it can also be a source of tension or conflict if not handled properly. When giving constructive criticism, be specific and avoid generalizations. Focus on the behavior, not the person, and provide specific examples of how they can improve, in a non-condescending manner. Starting with positive feedback to set a constructive tone for the conversation is always a good idea! When receiving constructive criticism, listen actively and with an open mind, and ask clarifying questions to fully understand the feedback. Use the feedback as an opportunity for growth and improvement, and thank the person for their input.

  • Remember that you are a team and care for one another. 

In the heat of an argument, it’s easy to see your loved one as the “opponent” or the “enemy.” However, it’s important to remember that you and this person are a team and that your ultimate goal is to resolve the conflict and strengthen your relationship. When you approach an argument with a mindset of collaboration and teamwork, you’re more likely to communicate effectively, listen actively, and work together to find a solution that works for both of you. Remembering that you and your friend are on the same side can also help you avoid hurtful or destructive behaviors, like name-calling, blaming, or stonewalling, that can damage your relationship and make the argument worse. So, the next time you find yourself in an argument with your friend, take a deep breath, remind yourself that you’re a team, and work together to find a solution that benefits both of you.

To discuss how therapy could help you during this season of your life, please contact me or schedule your free 15 minute consultation.

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