Communication in a relationship is essential for making it work and last. We are always communicating and we have to remember, approximately 80 percent of all communication is nonverbal and 20 percent is verbal. So, if you are saying one thing and your body is saying another, people may believe the nonverbal communication.
We may think we are good communicators, but are we really? It is important for couples to practice their communication skills. It doesn’t matter how long some couples have been together, sometimes their skills need to be “tweaked.” It is amazing how people don’t realize how much they yell and scream at each other, when they should be practicing talking in a normal tone and volume.
Calling each other names, putting the other person down, shaming them, and trying to hurt them on purpose is not healthy in any situation. We may need to take a break from talking about something and it is ok to walk away, knowing you have to come back at some point and discuss the issue. We sometimes become angry when the other person doesn’t do what we want them to; however, we cannot control anyone but ourselves. If we give up the idea of control, we will not get as angry.
There are many things you can find online on how to communicate to improve your skills. It might seem childish and like you are in first grade but that is ok, try it anyway. One simple way to talk with someone is to say, I feel ________ because of _______. Do not start out by accusing the other person; this may lead to a fight.
Do not be afraid to see a counselor for some help. You are not a failure at anything and you are not less than anyone if you see a counselor. It can be helpful to have an objective opinion from someone who is not emotionally involved.
One question to always ask yourself, “Do I want to be right or do I want to be happy?” Most people want to be right, but if we approach a conflict or concern without having a defensive posture to start with, we may hear what the other person is communicating. Most people have a difficult time with conflict, yet if we remain patient and open minded, we may just be happy!
(Tom Olson is a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor at CHI St. Alexius Health Employee Assistance Program. He specializes in individual, couples and family counseling and provides management consultations, education and training for companies, managers, employees and their families.)