10 Tips for Effective Communication in a Relationship
If you’re not sure how to communicate in a relationship, try introducing these strategies the next time you interact with your partner. Over time, with practice and knowledge, you’ll become more aware of problematic communication habits and learn better ways to express your thoughts and needs to one another.
1. Find the right setting
When you’re exhausted or overwhelmed, it can be difficult to have a real (let alone positive) discussion. If you and your partner need to talk about something important, or if you’ve been struggling with an issue, be sure to give yourself time to process your feelings before, during, and after the conversation. Staying in a neutral, peaceful environment can also help, especially during particularly difficult conversations.
What to do: Schedule a conversation at a time when you can both be engaged, present, and most importantly, calm. Do it in a place you’re both comfortable and feel safe.
2. Work on being an active listener
When it comes to communication, listening is just as important as talking. If you’re not sure how to improve communication in a relationship, start by honing your listening skills.
What to do: Listen carefully to what your partner is saying and make a point of engaging with their words. Ask questions or request clarification if you’re not sure what they’re trying to say.
3. Avoid distractions
If you’re busy checking your phone, scrolling through Instagram, or watching TV when your partner’s trying to talk to you, it can be difficult to focus on what they’re saying. It can also make them feel ignored and it’s overall an unhealthy communication problem.
What to do: Shut out electronic distractions so you and your partner can pay attention to each other and really listen to what the other is saying.
4. Validate your partner’s feelings
If your partner says something you disagree with, you might have negative feelings towards them and feel defensive. While that’s a natural reaction, and you won’t always agree, you should respect and acknowledge that your partner’s feelings are sincere and valid. Validating your partner’s feelings will curtail gaslighting in relationships.
What to do: Instead of arguing, try to remember that it’s important to learn to accept your partner’s feelings. You can disagree without discounting your partner and causing hurt feelings.
5. Be kind and respectful
When it comes to how to stop fighting in a relationship, a little kindness can go a long way, especially when emotions are running high. Make a point of being kind to your partner when you’re having a conversation. We can all practice a little more kindness in life, and it’s a great place to start if you’re not sure how to communicate better in a relationship. If you constantly feel as though the kindness and respect isn’t being reciprocated, it’s a sign you may be in a one-sided relationship.
What to do: Even if you’re angry, try to be polite and respectful in both your words and in your actions. Practice deep breathing when you’re heated, and remember that it’s OK to pause and calm down when you need to.
6. Avoid placing blame
If you phrase your feelings the wrong way, your partner might feel attacked or blamed, which leads to insecurity in relationships. When you’re expressing how you feel, try to use “I” statements.
What to do: Instead of saying, “you always come home late,” you could say, “I feel worried when you come home late.”
7. Don’t avoid conflict
Dealing with conflict is never fun, but ignoring issues won’t make your problems go away; open communication is key. When you don’t properly deal with (even minor) pain points in a romantic relationship, there’s a good chance things will eventually turn into a major source of conflict.
What to do: Work with your partner to address and resolve problems, big and small. In the beginning, it can be hard to tackle tough issues if you don’t know how to communicate in a relationship, but it really is worth the effort, and with practice, you’ll both become better at it.
8. Check in with your partner throughout the day
It isn’t always easy to spend time with your partner, especially when you’re both busy. When it comes to how to fix a broken relationship, simply reaching out to check in every so often can go a long way in letting them know that even when you’re busy, you’re there, and you care.
What to do: Try to take a few minutes to check in with each other a couple of times each day. During these check-ins, you can let your partner know how you’re feeling and ask them about their day. A quick “I’m thinking of you” text can go a long way.
9. Set boundaries
If you’ve noticed that you and your partner are frequently arguing over the same things, try setting boundaries that’ll help you nip things in the bud.
What to do: Boundaries can be great for anything. If money is a constant source of stress in your relationship, you might set a rule about discussing any purchases of more than $200 (or whatever amount makes sense). If your partner is always late and that bothers you, try asking them to send a text when their plans change, or they’ll be later than expected. As long as you stick to the boundaries you set, it can help you avoid miscommunication.
10. Have a positive attitude
Positivity is key in better communication. You and your partner are a team, and keeping things on a positive level can help your relationship in so many ways. Your common goal should always be to work through problems that you’re having, and try to arrive at a mutual understanding.
What to do: Try to be open to what your partner has to say. Avoid bringing up conflicts from the past. Above all, go into every conversation with an in-it-to-win-it attitude.