Effective Communication is the key to any successful relationship–romantic or otherwise. If you’re questioning whether you’re in a romantic or platonic relationship that contains effective communication, we’re here to bring you clarity.

What effective communication is not:

While many people feel that simply talking to a friend or a partner equates to effective communication, it’s not that simple. Many people approach conversations with the intent to communicate but ultimately fail because of these mistakes:

  • Listening only to respond – A large number of individuals make the mistake of watching the other person’s mouth move. Then as soon as they have an opening to share their point of view, they jump in and throw in what they’ve been dying to say.
  • Gaslighting – This happens when one person tries to make the other feel as though they don’t know what they’re talking about or the event in question never even happened. Gaslighting can go as far as to cause a person to question their own sanity. An example of this would be something such as:

                                                   Person A: “I saw you flirting with her at the party.”

                                                   Person B: “Why are you so insecure, we were just talking.”

In this example, the first person is trying to confront their partner and in return the partner is trying to make them feel as though they’re completely wrong, allowing them to insert their own narrative.

  • Stonewalling – This occurs when a person shuts down and refuses to communicate. Stonewalling can take the form of walking away from a conversation, changing the subject, and even replying with sarcasm.

 It’s important to be aware of the concepts of gaslighting and stonewalling as they can become indicators of emotional abuse. These two concepts are tricky because the person may or may not know that they are performing this behavior.

However, if you bring it to their attention and they refuse to make changes to their communication, this could indicate that you are in a toxic and emotionally abusive relationship.

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What effective communication is:

Though we all want to be able to pull people aside and have a productive conversation. We need to be intentional about the way it is done. The following are steps that should be taken when trying to communicate effectively.

  • Listen for understanding – Instead of waiting for your chance to jump into the conversation, listen carefully to what the other person is saying. Take in how the situation is making them feel and allow yourself to be empathetic as a result. When it is your turn to respond, you can do so from a place of calm and understanding.
  • Take accountability – If someone confronts you with something you have done that may have been hurtful or offensive, you should immediately take ownership of your wrongdoings and offer a sincere apology. Together, you can decide what steps you can take to rebuild any trust that may have been broken. This is also the time to set boundaries so whatever occurred, won’t occur again.
  • Be approachable – Confronting someone with conflict is difficult enough without having to worry about how the other person will respond. To avoid additional conflict, be open to what the other person is saying. While you may feel like you want to run away or not deal with the issue, it’s important to listen to the other person and be understanding so you can establish comfort, trust, and safety.
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When it comes right down to it, everyone can work on becoming a more effective communicator. It takes commitment and intention. While you may not always get it right and you’ll even need to ask for forgiveness at times, choosing to adjust your communication style will ultimately set you up for greater success in the long run. Effective communication is not just for your romantic relationships, but also familial, and friendly relationships.

If you’re beyond trying effective communication techniques and you know you’re in a mentally or emotionally abusive relationship, consider finding the courage to leave and contact the authorities if you feel unsafe. For more information on effectively communicating with others or additional relationship topics, check out our other helpful articles today.