Communication lies at the heart of relationships. Perhaps it’s stating the obvious, but it’s how we get to know other people and how they come to understand us, our thoughts and feelings. Good communication builds intimacy and trust.
Communicating with a partner can be tricky because we all develop certain habits, habits that can bring us closer together or push us apart. No one is perfect, but we can all improve the way we communicate, which will help us grow a deeper understanding and more intimate connection.
Things that get in the way of good communication
Lots of things get in the way of good communication even for those who are intelligent and articulate. Toucan Together’s Communication Module helps you discover any blocks you may be experiencing.
Our different backgrounds and experiences shape the way we see and respond to things around us. We may unconsciously be like our mother, who shouted a lot, or our father, who was quiet. But we can change.
We will have different personalities. Some people are ‘external processors’, they like to think out loud, whereas their partner may be an ‘internal processor’ where it all goes on in their head. Your partner may like to ‘go with the flow’ whereas you might like to plan. Our differences can lead to communication struggles and disagreements, but we can learn to handle them positively.
Beliefs and attitudes will strongly influence how you communicate and you may not even be aware of them. For example you may believe it’s weak to share feelings, especially those that make you, or your partner, uncomfortable, which will make it hard to really get to know each other or deal with any difficulties.
We all fall into bad habits, although it’s usually easier to spot someone else’s than admit to your own! Habits like: interrupting, trying to fix, defensiveness, verbal put-downs and opting out will all affect the way we communicate. If habits get ingrained then they can leave partners thinking ‘why bother talking if …I’m always interrupted / you always walk away / we always end up arguing?’
What you can do to improve communication
Although it takes two to communicate it’s worth remembering that you can only change yourself, not your partner. It’s easy to spot a partner’s bad habits and subtly play the blame game, but you are only responsible for making changes for yourself.
Identify your own bad habits and find strategies for positive communication in Toucan Together’s Communication Module. Dropping off bad habits and picking up new good ones can revolutionise the way you communicate.
Develop good habits. Make time and energy for your relationship. If you’re too busy to talk, then you’re too busy! Put time in your diaries to relax together and really talk.
Work on your listening skills and regularly get into your partner’s world. Asking open questions is a great place to start: ‘what was good about your day?’ Then listen without interrupting.
Tell your partner what’s going on inside, he or she is not a mind-reader. Talk about feelings. This can be more challenging for some people. The Communication Module has a helpful tool, the Emotions Wheel, which can really open up a conversation. The module will empower you to go deeper in your communication and grow trust and intimacy as a couple.
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