Have you and your significant other ever had an argument because one of you misunderstood what the other person said? Of course you have. We all have. In fact, even when couples are not arguing, they’re misunderstanding each other. It happens more often than we think.
It’s no secret that communication can make or break any relationship, especially a romantic relationship. But do you know what the secret to effective communication is?
Effective communication is a two-way process. But surprisingly, the key to effective communication isn’t speaking, it’s listening. Or more precisely active listening.
Most of us listen passively and subjectively, taking in every word, filtering it through our own experiences, and sometimes reading unintended meaning into a word or how it’s said. Miscommunications often begin this way.
Active listening is a structured approach to effective communication that requires the listener to:
“I” statements are one way listeners can mirror back what a speaker has said, thereby ensuring mutual understanding. For example, an active listener might say, “I understand you feel unhappy when…” or “I’m hearing you say that….” By showing a genuine desire to understand, “I” statements support effective communication and strengthen the rapport between the listener and the speaker.
“I” statements are also effective communication tools when you have something to say, or when your significant other opens a conversation that makes you feel sad, bad or mad.
Rather than getting defensive, take a deep breath, count to 10 and use active listening skills to keep the lines of communication open.
By practicing active listening and assertive responding, you’ll be better equipped to deal with all your relationships, whether they are romantic or platonic, personal or professional.
Want to learn more about relationships? Take these brief quizzes by relationship expert Dr. John Gottman: