Good communication is like a deep and solid foundation. There is this principle that a building is only as strong as its foundation, and this same principle applies to relationships. A relationship is only as good as its communication. In fact, communication is the very essence of a relationship, whether it be physical, verbal, or other forms of communication. It is the only way in which two different people can live their lives with one another.
We communicate because that’s how we get to know each other,
how we take into account the other’s perspective.
We communicate because no two people think the exact same way.
We might not realise this, but underlying our conflicts is probably something that we call “broken communication”. Broken communication itself is built up of a list of assumptions or expectations. One of the biggest assumptions we make is that we assume and expect our partners to know what is going on in our hearts and our heads. But, surely, we’re not telepathic — no matter how much time we’ve spent with our partners.
Broken communication can also simply be poor choices of vocabulary. More often than not, there are better ways for us to address and explain our concerns to our loved ones. Our message could only be delivered effectively if it is also wrapped neatly. The purpose of wrapping a gift isn’t to sugar-coat it or to hide the fact that the gift is not valuable. Its function is to let the recipient know how much we value them. By understanding our partner’s way of communicating, we are actually showing our deepest love to them.
So, here are some things about communication that we think you should know:
- Replace your “sorry” with a “thank you”
Many of us don’t realise that apologising too much can leave a negative impression on our partners. It expresses our lack of selflessness by only focusing on our own feelings of being a failure. Replacing the word “sorry” with “thank you” after having done a mistake, instead, shows our appreciation for the patience and understanding of our loved ones. Instead of saying “sorry I messed it up again,” say “thank you for being patient with me.”
- “Leaving” does not equal to “taking some time out”
Ever just storm out of a room or leave a text on “read” in the middle of an argument? Unfortunately, these kinds of reactions would result in more confusion rather than a resolution. Try telling your partner that you need to take some time for yourself to think things through; and trust your partner if they ask that of you, too. Providing them with a sense of clarity will actually help calm the two of you down enough to assess the situation with a sound mind.
- “Nothing” v.s. “Can we talk later?”
Sometimes, we don’t get in tune with our own feelings enough to realise that we need time to process things. When asked, “what’s wrong?” by a loved one, try communicating and expressing what you actually feel, instead of saying “nothing” with an angry face. And if you’re struggling to communicate it, state that you need to postpone the discussion. Similar to the second point, both of you will be able to think through things more clearly with clear communication.
- Never use absolute words!
Absolute words are words like “never” and “always”. For example, “you never say sorry!” or “you always make that face!” These words can be offensive, as it shows that we don’t recognise that our partners are also a work in progress. And, often, the accusations we make aren’t true at all.
- To react, or to respond?
Again, timing is everything! Even a joke delivered at a wrong timing would not sound as funny as it should be. A reaction happens immediately, while a response is a reaction that has undergone some thought and some time. To determine the right time to communicate something is a skill that we learn as we grow in the relationship. Thinking before speaking is one way we can avoid broken communication.
Don’t forget that the goal of all this communicating is to have a greater understanding of each other. Remember that there is always grace and room for improvement for you, and remember to be gracious to your loved ones, too. Proper communication is one great gift we can offer to our relationships, but so is forgiveness.