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Healthy Communication with Your Partner

Healthy Communication with Your Partner

You may have a different style of communication than your dating partner. That doesn’t have to be a deal breaker, but you should know how these various styles of communication can affect your relationships.


A communication style could also be called a conversational style. After all, we can only know things through conversing with words (either through writing or talking). We share information about our emotions, physical well-being and thoughts.


But it’s the way we share communication that varies from one person to the other. Your gender can determine your communication style or how you were raised, educated and other factors.


One style of communication could be called competitive. If you’re the type of person that craves power and loves competition, your communication style is likely more focused on those goals.


Affiliative communicators tend to bring others into the process to solve problems together. Friends, family or partners in a relationship may be asked for their input and decisions are made after the input rather than the competitive style of deciding immediately.


Think about how you communicate with others to find your own style. For example, do you tend to listen to everyone’s opinion before voicing your own or speak up immediately if someone says something you disagree with?


You may be perfectly happy in the affiliative communication style to take directions from others and are your best in relationships based on a hierarchical arrangement? Or, do you have trouble in giving up your power to others and prefer to be in charge at all times.


Neither competitive or affiliative styles of communication are wrong – they’re just different. But it could cause conflict in a relationship where one person prefers direct ways to communicate and the other prefers a collaborative method.


Direct or indirect styles of communication can also make a difference in the way the relationship progresses – or dies on the vine. For example, if you express that you really love Chinese food, your partner might not get the message that you’d like to go to dinner.


A more direct way of communicating would be to say that you want to go out for Chinese food and state your restaurant preference.  The direct style of communication leaves less room to be misunderstood, but some people aren’t comfortable with it.


Different communication styles can cause stress and lack of understanding, but those who have competing styles of communication can make it work with understanding and becoming more flexible.


When you become aware of another person’s distress over miscommunication, understanding must occur to overcome the problem. Flexibility in your style of communication means that you are committed to finding a different approach when it comes to communication with your partner.


For example, you might want to vow to be a better listener. If you’re constantly told by others that you just don’t listen to what they’re saying, you may want to take a good look and yourself and take steps to improve your communication skills.


Finding a communication style that will work in your relationship will ease any tension you might have from attempting to communicate. Becoming a better listener might mean you need to paraphrase what your partner says for awhile.


Listening isn’t always an innate trait, but something we have to practice and cultivate. Use all skills available to you – your body language and holding back a comment or reaction until the entire conversation is communicated to you are great skills.


But what if your communicative skills crumble and you morph into an argument with your partner? That’s when you really need some communication skills. Concentrate on the rules of friendly fighting which includes welcoming conflict to learn about each other.


Also, think about the issue – not the other person. And be respectful when it comes to listening to your partner’s problems and feelings about a subject. Listen to what s/he is saying.


Rather than shout or lose your temper, talk softly. It’s an odd phenomenon that the louder you yell, the less likely you are to be heard. Communicating in a soft voice can help you both begin to focus on the issue.


Instead of vehemently voicing your innocence during accusations, ask for specifics about what the other person is trying to communicate. And if you’re doing the complaining, be prepared to offer specifics to your partner.


Try to find things you can agree on and look for options that will lead to cooperation. Asking for options to solve the matter shows respect and value for the other person’s opinion.


Finally, make concessions. Even small concessions can make a difference in how the communication efforts turn around. After all, it isn’t about how much you win – it’s all about making peace and finding harmony in your relationship.


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