Healthy communication is the foundation of any successful and fulfilling relationship, whether romantic, familial, or platonic. Healthy communication is not easy. It involves being able to express oneself both openly and honestly which can take both time and practice. By practicing our communication skills it can prepare us for any conflicts that may occur, from family drama to a difference in beliefs. Here are some, but not all, key points for maintaining healthy communication:
● Active Listening & Engagement
When conversing with others we should listen to understand, rather than just to respond. This requires us to give our full attention to the person speaking without thinking about what we’ll say next. We need to truly acknowledge each other's feelings and experiences, even if we don't necessarily agree with them.
● Use “I” statements
We want to take ownership of our feelings without asserting blame. Instead of using a phrase such as, “You make me feel…”, instead say “I feel...when…”. By expressing our feelings in a non-confrontational manner, we can create an atmosphere of mutual respect and understanding.
● Be Direct & Avoid Assumptions
It's important to express your feelings, needs, and concerns openly and honestly. Avoiding or suppressing your feelings can lead to resentment and misunderstandings. To avoid misunderstandings, we should avoid making assumptions about what the other person is thinking or feeling. Instead, ask for clarification for both better understanding and connection.
● Non-verbal Communication
Communication can be more than just the words we say but also occurs through our body language and actions. These actions can convey the speaker's emotions and intentions, especially when they may not be able to say it with their words. Pay attention to their body language such as posture, and hand movements,
If one or both of you in the conversation find yourself getting too worked up or upset, it’s okay to take a time out until both parties have calmed down. A conversation that involves yelling, interrupting each other, or defensiveness will not be productive.
Written by: Emily Fox
Department of Health & Human Services. (2001, October 12). Relationships and communication. Better Health Channel. https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/healthyliving/relationships-and-communication
The Jed Foundation. How to improve communication skills in your relationship: Jed. The Jed Foundation. (2021, July 29). https://jedfoundation.org/resource/how-to-improve-communication-skills-in-your-relationship/