Tips for Healthy Communication Styles

Tips for Healthy Communication Styles

2019-02-18T20:31:13-06:00

Communication is an essential part of making any relationship work. Whether this is with a partner, family, friends, or co-workers, healthy communication can promote successful relationships. Here are some tips to have healthy communication with your partner.

  1. Find the right timing. Try to choose a time where there are limited distractions. Avoid times when someone is stressed or if there is limited time to have the discussion. Also, talking in person is best since text messages can be misinterpreted.
  2. Use “I statements”. Using “I statements” help us take responsibility for our own feelings and not put blame on our partner. When people feel like they are being blamed they will naturally begin to feel defensive. To use “I statements”, first express how you feel and also describe how the other person’s behaviors or actions affect you. Example: “You are always on your phone and never listen“, try instead “I feel hurt when you’re on your phone while I’m talking because I feel unimportant.”
  3. Listen to your partner without interrupting. It is hard to put aside your point but do it for the moment to listen. Let your partner know that you heard them. Don’t make assumptions about what your partner is saying. Ask questions to clarify if it’s unclear. Paraphrasing what your partner said in your own words can assist in letting your partner know you are listening and understand them. Example: Partner says, “I feel like you are always working and never have time for me”, you say “I’m hearing you say that I don’t spend enough time with you and I work too much”. Avoid texting or other distractions while you are listening.
  4. Validate your partner’s feelings. When your partner is expressing their feelings to you try to accept that they feel what they feel and although you may disagree you accept how they feel. By validating them it helps them to feel heard and understood. Example: “I see how you’re feeling”, “That sounds difficult to deal with”, “I hear you”. AVOID using invalidating responses like, “You shouldn’t feel that way”, “It’s not that bad, get over it”, “Don’t be so sensitive”.
  5. Use positive and open body language. Try not to use negative body language, such as crossing your arms or turning your back to the person while you’re having a discussion. Always use good eye contact.
  6. Avoid shouting. Try to remain calm and keep your voice down. Sometimes the healthiest thing to do is take a time out during an argument if it is getting too heated. If you are yelling or name calling it’s a good idea to take a time out. Think about why you got so angry and think about how you can express your feelings. Make sure to come back to the discussion and not leave the issue unresolved.
  7. Avoid stonewalling. Stonewalling is when a person withdraws from a conversation and refuses to keep talking. Sometimes it can be easier to avoid and ignore your partner during an argument but this may upset your partner more and leave things unresolved. If you need a time out let your partner know.
  8. Talk about one issue at a time. Bringing up things the person has done in the past or placing blame about something else that has happened will switch the focus from the original matter.
  9. Don’t make it personal. Talk about the problem at hand, not the person. Try to talk about the problem without blaming your partner. Don’t use put-downs or other language that will be hurtful to your partner. This will lead to resentment and will switch the focus from the issue.
  10. Compromise. You will not always find an agreement on the issue. Instead work towards resolving the issue in a way that can benefit both people. Make the goal to resolve the conflict and not win the argument.

About the Author: Cristal Stevens, LCSW

I believe that everyone is motivated to change given the right tools in a safe and warm comfortable environment. I would love to help you overcome obstacles in your life and move forward.