Most people lack relational communication skills. No one was taught how to communicate effectively, so it makes sense that it's a struggle.
People are taught how to speak, but good sentence structure and a wide range of vocabulary words won't always lead to being understood or understanding others—the goal of communication. Effective communication requires much more than being able to speak.
The good news is it's never too late to learn how to communicate more effectively. The first step is to realize you're having communication issues. Then, you can learn how to communicate in a more productive way. The following is a list of the top three signs that you need to learn healthier communication skills in order to resolve conflict and feel more connected in your relationship:
You have the same fights over and over. Your fights are about the same topic again and again, or, your fights blow up in the same way about a variety of subjects over and over. If this is happening, it means you don't yet have the skills to resolve conflicts, leave issues behind you, and move on. If you can't resolve issues, they continue to show up. The fight may end, but it's only a matter of time before you'll argue about the same thing again. When you learn how to resolve conflicts, issues don't pile up and become baggage that weighs down your relationship.
You avoid discussing certain topics. You don't want to fight so you try not to bring up topics that lead only to pain and disconnection. The problem is that avoiding those subjects leads to pain and disconnection anyway. Avoidance might work for a little while, but eventually, the disconnection will grow until you can't tolerate it anymore. Unless you learn how to have hard conversations productively, you'll get more and more disconnected until your relationship is in danger of ending.
You regularly feel misunderstood, unseen, or unheard. No matter how hard you try, you don't feel understood, validated, or seen. Perhaps your partner has expressed feeling the same. When you don't feel understood and seen by your partner, it hurts. You end up feeling disconnected and lonely. It's often triggering of painful childhood relationships. Your self-esteem takes a hit. You don't have the skills to communicate in a way that leaves you and/or your partner feeling heard, understood, or validated. Over time the disconnected feeling takes a toll on your relationship. It's important to learn how to communicate in a relational way, so that both you and the other person feel heard and understood. This requires more than just speaking to your partner or vice versa. To be heard, your partner will need to learn how to listen. For you to be able to hear your partner, you'll need to do the same.
If these experiences feel familiar, it means it's time to get to work on your communication skills. With practice, you and your partner can begin to understand each other. Arguments can begin to go well, leaving you and your partner feeling more connected than ever.
To get started, download your free copy of the healthy communication checklist! https://view.flodesk.com/pages/63042478104f3c29ea44b982
This blog was originally published by Caitlin on Psychology Today.