5 Fatal Communication Mistakes You Could Be Making In Your Relationships

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communication mistakes

Good communication skills are so important to the success of any relationship, and yet effective communication can be one of the hardest skills to master, especially if you’ve developed a pattern of using the same negative communication patterns over and over again.

The way a couple communicates is a pretty good indicator of whether their relationship will see the distance. If there is a constant or regular display of negative communication, chances are that over time, communication will probably break down entirely, along with the relationship.

But if you’ve found yourself in a cycle of poor communication with your partner, it doesn’t necessarily mean the end of your relationship is nigh.

You can begin to set things back on track by becoming aware of, and eliminating the 5 common, but fatal communication mistakes.

What’s Your Favourite Mistake?

There are 5 communication methods that are most fatal to a relationship of any kind, whether it’s with your partner, or your mother.

Regardless of whether you use any of these communication methods some of the time, or all of the time, by eliminating them you will vastly improve how you relate to, and are received by, your partner.

Criticism

Start any conversation with ‘How can you be so stupid?’ or ‘You always do that wrong!’ and you’re going no-where fast.

By criticizing your partner for something they have done (or not done) or for the person they are, you let them know that you don’t like certain things about them and they’re simply not good enough.

While your partner might have certain characteristics or behaviours that don’t thrill you, no one wants to hear that they don’t meet your grade, so when your partner hears criticism they are most likely to immediately shut down and become defensive.

Solution:

When you are inclined towards criticism, ask yourself two questions:

  • What will I gain from criticising another person?
  • How would I feel to be criticized?

Most often neither of these questions have a positive answer so change course and try coming at your complaint in a different way.

It’s absolutely fine to have complaints about something not being done or about behaviour that you don’t find suitable, but make sure you address it as a complaint about the action, not as criticism of your partner as a person.

Saying ‘I really needed you to remember to do that’ is a lot different than lashing out with ‘You are such a forgetful idiot!’.

Defensiveness

Defensiveness is a means of protection.

It rises most often when a person believes, rightly or wrongly, that they are being criticized, blamed or accused of something and they don’t want to be wrong. Some people automatically go on the defensive as soon as anything comes up that’s not purely positive.

A common response to this is to turn the conversation around to the other person, blaming them in turn or yelling and making a big deal about something other than the perceived accusation.

Solution:

It can take some practice to combat this reaction but the best way is to adopt the belief that no matter what is said to you, you are not under direct attack, and can choose to calmly receive and discuss any issues that arise.

This means that whether you’ve done something wrong or not, you take the high ground and allow yourself to hear what is said to you, then decide on a positive and mature way to respond.

You can certainly defend your position, but do it from a place of explanation, not deflection.

Sulking

Sulking is a way of stonewalling yourself from someone and it tends to happen when a person in a conversation feels overwhelmed, confused or frustrated and doesn’t know how to advance.

Although sulking appears to be an attempt to terminate a conversation, it is often actually a silent plea for the other person to come towards you, to make things better and show they love you.

Instead, your partner sees it as being rude and childlike, and once the sulking starts, any attempt at positive communication is often futile until the sulker decides it is safe to join the conversation again.

Solution:

Rather than shutting down, try pausing to clear your thoughts and then calmly ask for what you want, or explain how you are feeling in clear, direct language.

Sulking will only create distance, where you want connection. It creates a barrier to resolution and you have a much better chance of receiving what you want by remaining engaged and asserting yourself.

Sarcasm or Mockery

Sarcasm and mockery are covert ways of voicing disgust or contempt towards your partner.

When you use snide remarks, or ridicule something they have done or said, you are expressing a distaste that is felt by your partner, even if they can’t identify what it is.

This mistake might seem harmless compared to the others, but it is actually the most toxic as these feelings are allowed to grow and be indirectly shared, rather than being directly addressed.

Solution:

Try and keep your language clean. I’m not talking about using curse words (although you should try and avoid those too), I’m talking about using language that avoids being sarcastic, snarky, mocking or ridiculing.

If there are aspects of your partner that you do feel particularly unhappy about, discuss them in a way that is direct, loving and respectful rather than using poorly executed humour to highlight them

Interruption

When you interrupt, you tell the person who’s speaking that you’re not listening, and what they are saying isn’t as important as what you have to say.

You also close yourself off from hearing what is being said because you can’t prepare to speak, and listen at the same time.

Interruption is also incredibly frustrating for someone trying to be heard and if it keeps happening, eventually your partner will simply stop speaking knowing they’ll just be interrupted.

Solution:

As hard as it might be to hear certain things without responding, refrain from interrupting your partner.

Patiently wait for them to finish their sentence and then allow a few extra seconds pause so that they have a chance to continue if they need to, without you interrupting.

Allowing this space has a way of keeping conversations more concise as the person talking doesn’t feel like they have to work so hard to be heard, repeating themselves, getting louder and saying things to get your attention.

Clean Up Your Communication

Of course there are many other negative communication methods that are often deployed in arguments such as yelling, swearing, blaming, accusing, lying, and body language like eye rolling or raising eyebrows, and you should do your best to eliminate as many of these as possible as well.

This might not be the easiest change you have made. Using only positive communication takes practice and the willingness to be a little bit vulnerable so you can properly communicate your true thoughts and feelings to someone you love.

By learning to communicate more effectively, you will actually feel more heard and understood in your relationships.

Even with practice, there might still be times when you find yourself in one of those old familiar communication patterns, but don’t worry. The odd immature argument every now and then won’t do too much damage as long as you remember to return to conscious communication and conduct yourself with love, respect and maturity next time.

Are you ready to let go of some old habits, some old tricks? Which of the 5 fatal communication methods will you be removing from your next conversation?

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  1. Pingback: Don't Sweat The Small Stuff | Rachael Lay

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