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Improve Communication
 

Are Your Communication Habits Holding You Back From the Relationship You Want?
By Susie and Otto Collins

The silence was so thick that you could slice it with a knife...

Have you ever been in a tense situation with your partner in which he or she seemed so withdrawn that the silence and distance between the two of you literally felt that dense?

It could be that, instead, your mate tends to
meltdown and lose his or her temper over just about any disagreement that arises.

It's not uncommon for those in love relationships to become annoyed or irritated by the habitual ways their partners communicate-especially when it's about a difficult topic.

It's also not uncommon for each person in the
relationship to believe that if only the other person would change, communication would flow so much easier.

We can understand that, especially if your partner's communication habits are different from your own, you might feel uncomfortable or even judgmental of how he or she reacts.

When there is an escalation in the tensions between you and your partner, it is often due-- at least in part-- to the ways you are communicating with one another.

When you can identify the habits that are holding you back from the relationship you want, you are a step closer to creating a more connected relationship.

But if you see your partner's communication habits as the primary, or only, source of disconnect, you are missing a huge piece of the puzzle.

And you won't get to connection and closeness in your relationship when you are ignoring or not seeing all of the pieces (and we know there are times
when relationships seem quite puzzling)!

Acknowledging your own communication habits and opening up to loving your mate even in the face of his or her irritating tendencies is powerful and effective.

Matt and Sandi have a stormy relationship-- and that's putting it mildly! Matt is a straight-forward, tell it like he sees it kind of person.

If he feels like someone crosses a line or betrays him, he immediately calls the person out and demands a change. Sandi prefers to share her feelings in a less intense way but it doesn't usually turn out that way.

She feels like she has to rise to Matt's
intensity which leaves her feeling exhausted and mean.  Sandi believes that if only Matt knew how to take a deep breath and ease up when he's triggered, their relationship would be much closer and more enjoyable.

To you it may seem obvious that Matt is the problem in this scenario. On the other hand, you might identify with Matt and see Sandi as a big contributor to the disconnect going on.

As sure as you might be that your partner is the "problem" when it comes to your communication relationship, remember that you literally cannot change another person. 

As much as Sandi wants to, she cannot change Matt or force him to change.

At the same time, neither Sandi, Matt nor you and your partner are powerless. You can make changes in how you both communicate that will move you closer to connection and one another.

Own up to your contribution to communication dynamics
Yes, of course, communication between you and your mate might radically improve when your partner changes his or her habits. You can also look at your situation from another angle.

Shift your attention away from your partner and how he or she tends to communicate for the moment.

Take the position of an observer and think about how you tend to act and react when talk gets tense between the two of you.

Set aside any desires you might have to assign blame-- to your partner or yourself-- for how you see your situation and just pay attention to your usual tendencies.

Sandi realizes that when she and Matt start talking about a tricky topic, she gets tense and becomes defensive quickly.

She often expects Matt to accuse her of breaking some rule or betraying him in some way. She then tends to feel guilty and, next, angry and frustrated for feeling that way.

When Sandi remembers their argument last night,
she clearly sees how rapidly she moved into defensiveness and anger even before Matt lashed out at her.

This realization was quite eye-opening to Sandi! She now has a wider view of their communication habits and can take steps toward changing her expectations as well as working on ways to calm down when triggered.

What can you appreciate about your mate?
It might be the grating and abrasive tone in your mate's voice when he or she is angry. Or it may be the hunching shoulders and downcast eyes when he or she shuts down. 

Sometimes those tendencies in our partner that drive us nuts are all we can see.

Instead, practice finding aspects about your partner that you appreciate. You might start out by trying this when you are calm.

When you can easily make a mental list of things you appreciate about your mate, recall a recent argument or tense talk.

Can you remember anything at all that your partner said or did that was helpful to the
situation?

It could be something very subtle or seemingly insignificant-- even a gentle touch in the midst of it all.

Fill yourself with the feeling of appreciation for this memory and for your partner. As you practice this more and more, you can widen your scope and begin to shift your feelings.

Sandi tries this exercise and recalls the way Matt seemed to struggle with his feelings during the argument.

Matt did say hurtful words that really stung Sandi, but he started out by saying that he wanted to reach a resolution to this difficult issue peacefully and lovingly.

While Sandi still feels unhappy about the words Matt chose, she feel a glimmer of hope that he intended for the conversation to be different
than it was.

With this acknowledgment and glimmer of hope, Sandi can appreciate. Of course she and Matt have much more work to do, but it's now easier for her to form different expectations for the next time they are communicating about a tricky topic.

Perhaps they can create some specific agreements together about what peaceful and loving communication might look like for them.

We don't recommend that you avoid or ignore communication habits that are taking you and your partner further apart.

At the same time, we encourage you to acknowledge the whole picture-- including the role you play in the communication dynamics and even the glimmers of hope that you might not be seeing.

Expanding your view in this way might feel uncomfortable. But, when you set aside the need to blame or be right, with a sense of love and forgiveness, the results can be positively dramatic.

You might just find yourself and your mate working together moving toward a closer and more
connected relationship.



 


 

 

 

 

 




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Contact Info
Relationship Coaches Susie and Otto Collins
PO Box 14544, Columbus, OH 43214
Contact Susie or Otto about Relationship Coaching by calling 614-459-8121.
For all other inquiries, contact us by email


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