1. Make conversation a part of your day. Build better communication with your partner by finding multiple opportunities to interact and make small talk throughout the day. Share your goals for the day over breakfast with a prompt like, "So what's on your agenda today?" Talk at dinner by taking turns sharing peaks and pits of the day.
If your partner offers short answers during small talk, tease out more detail with clarifying questions. You might ask, "What happened that made your day tough today, hun?" when your partner describes having a "tough" day.
Make small talk more engaging by sharing things you're each excited about, such as an upcoming music festival or a special desert your partner prepared.
2. Be an active listener. Immature relationships often consist of nonexistent communication patterns, which slowly destroy the connection. Mature partners must strive to keep the lines of communication open by giving and receiving. Listening is an especially big issue for many couples, so be sure to freshen up your listening skills.
When your partner speaks, give them your undivided attention. Listen to understand rather than listening to reply. Let them finish completely before saying anything. To cut down on misunderstandings, restate or paraphrase (“It sounds like you're saying…”) what you heard to be sure it's what they meant.
If your partner feels that you actually hear them out, they will be more likely to be attentive when you are talking, too.
3. Say what you mean, tactfully. Don't beat around the bush or expect your partner to mind-read. If you want to voice an opinion or ask for a need to be met, speak up. However, do so tactfully without attacking your partner in the process. “I” or “we” statements can help you do this.
For example, if you feel like your partner is not practicing adequate listening, make a request using an “I” statement. Say something like, “I don't feel like you're paying attention to me. Can you please put down your phone when I'm talking? I'd really appreciate that.”
4. Stay above the belt in disagreements. Mature relationships involve partners who fight fair. No matter how angry you get, strive to keep your voice level and save the insults. Adding negativity to an already stressful situation only heightens the tension and makes it harder to reach a solution.
If you become overly angry, pause, take a break, and breathe deeply. Come back to the discussion when you have collected yourself and are ready to communicate properly.
To signal that a break is needed, you might ask, "Can we take 15?"
A break is different than giving the silent treatment, though. Don't try to use breaks to avoid conflict. Once you've cooled off, you need to return to the issue and discuss it with your partner.
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