This blog post was written by Pooja Shah, PsyD.
Relationships are difficult and more times than not and at the root of most issues is communication. A common mistake with communication is making assumptions and believing that the other individual understands without knowing for sure. Use these tips to begin communicating effectively and clearly with your partner.
- Listen: Most of us believe that this is an easy task and that we are pretty good at it. Miscommunication often occurs when one partner is actually coming up with a response rather than fully listening to the other. Take time to notice if this is something you do. If so, start to consciously stop and focus on the conversation. Chances are, if this is something you do with your partner, this is probably something you struggle with in most of you relationships.
- Repeat: Before you respond to your partner’s statement, take time to repeat what you heard them say. This will give them the opportunity to notice if there was anything that they may have said that was not understood, the way they were hoping. If this is the case, take a moment to clarify.
- Clarify: If you discover that your partner may have misunderstood you, take time to clarify it in a different way. Often individuals assume that if their partner did not understand them it is because they do not care, they were not listening, or they do not agree, when often it is just misunderstanding. Sometimes, what may sound logical and clear to one person may not be to another. Taking time to clarify what you mean can help reduce any miscommunication.
- State: When you are in an argument, have a question, or are asking for a favor, whatever the purpose may be, state your needs clearly. No matter how in sync you are with your partner, it is not okay to assume or believe that they will know what you mean or can read your mind. Even the closest partners need to be aware of mind reading. To assume that your partner knows what you mean can create great miscommunication. It is best to just state what you need as clearly as possible. If it is a task that one needs, laying out steps can be very useful.
- Make no assumptions: To effectively communicate both you and your partner must stop making assumptions. When we make assumptions we end up placing expectations on the other individual. Expectations that are often unrealistic, considering the other person may not even know that those expectations exist.