We can all work on our relationships, right? Perhaps one of your resolutions this year was to be more loving, more forgiving, more giving, etc. Spending time and energy on our loved ones and the associated relationships is always a good resolution and promises rewards in return. Here are a few tips to get you started.
Own your statements and your feelings. If we take responsibility for our behavior and feelings, our statements start with “I”. Not only does this make the conversation less threatening, it gives you ownership of the feelings since they are, in fact, your own. “It makes me feel…” and “I feel sad when…” are both ways in which we can express our feelings without attacking the other person or placing blame.
Criticism and feedback are two very delicate areas in most relationships. We’re certainly not going to like everything about everything our partners do. Choosing our battles and choosing our wording can both go a long way to keeping you from becoming the bickering people at every party. Offering guidance such as “could you try this area…” or “That feels great, can you try using the base of your hand…” show that we like the back rub, but want to offer guidance to get our needs met. This method can offer the guidance while still ensuring that we appreciate the gesture.
Don’t be afraid to take a time out. Some of our conversations get heated and filled with lots of emotion. It is OK to take a step back and circle back around to the topic later in the day. I’m someone who needs to process my thoughts and feelings so taking a short time-out is essential to my health and happiness. I also communicate better when I take this time to consider my thoughts and feelings and put them into words.
Lastly, just shhhh. Don’t be an interrupter. There is nothing more frustrating, when talking to a friend, than feeling as though you have to keep talking and talking quickly so as not to have your train of thought broken. Give your partner time to organize their thoughts and complete sentences and entire thoughts before you jump in. More often than not we are so focused on our reaction to the first couple of sentences (or words!) of what our partners are saying, our inclination is to jump right in. Be quiet and truly listen to the entire story. Most likely you will find that your comments and reactions will be different once you hear the whole story.