We’ve all heard this before: communication is essential to any relationship. Communicate, communicate, communicate.
But let’s take a step back. Just because you are talking to your partner doesn’t mean you are productively working on your issues.
Of course, not every conversation is going to be perfect and productive, but take some time to make sure you are not making any of these common communication mistakes.
Top Five Common Communication Mistakes
Not getting consent before you talk. Consent isn’t just for intimacy. Ask your partner if it’s a good time to talk about what is troubling you. If they are stressed with work or other worries, they may not be able to focus entirely.
Not talking at all. Don’t hold in your concerns just because your partner is busy. The longer you sit on an issue, the more it will grow. Your partner may not understand what is troubling you until you speak up.
Making assumptions. You know the old saying about assumptions. Your partner may not understand why you are upset. They might not see that you are stressed. They might be stressed, but for reasons that you are not aware of yet. Don’t assume — ask.
Speaking with extremes. It is often hurtful to hear extreme statements like, “You never listen to me” or “You always forget to clean the dishes!” Often, these statements are not even true. Account for your partner’s efforts when you are speaking to them. “Speaking in extremes” also includes ultimatums. (“If you don’t stick to your diet, I’m taking away the TV!”) Ultimatums are not a sustainable way to help you or your partner change their behavior, and they are often difficult to uphold.
Not recognizing the validity of your (or your partner’s) feelings. Your feelings are valid. Your partner’s feelings are valid. Saying, “it’s not that big of a deal,” or “get over it,” doesn’t help to address the root cause of someone’s hurt feelings. It’s also known as gaslighting. Even if you don’t feel as passionately about an issue as your partner, understand that they are experiencing valid emotions.
Learn More About Productive Communication With Relationship Counseling
These communication mistakes can be replaced with more productive tools and skills. Contact Norene Gonsiewsk and Tim Higdon to learn how to use these tools and improve the foundation of your relationship.