What type of communicator are you?
This is good. Whether you often leave a discussion with your significant other feeling guilty or they constantly tell you that you’re not listening to what they’re saying, you’ve decided to take the steps to improve your communication. But before you can better yourself it’s important to really understand the areas you struggle with the most.
Many of us can identify the flaws in our communication with no hesitation—mostly because we’ve heard others repeatedly point out that we should stop shouting or we need to speak up. But some of us may not be so sure about what their biggest struggles are. But that’s nothing we can’t fix.
We’ve thought through 3 popular communication styles that tend to manifest during simple discussions or arguments and one move you can make improvements. It’s possible that you may even identify with one or more of these communicators.
In many cases, the yellers feel like they aren’t being heard if they don’t raise their voice in attempts to command attention. Sometimes you don’t even realize you’re yelling until someone points it out. Truth be told, your partner is less likely to be receptive to what you say once you raise your voice. Depending on their personality and even past experiences, they might shut down completely, get defensive or become stubborn. Even if what you’re saying is right, all they can see is your shouting at them, which—whether they admit it or not—can make them feel as if they’re being talked down to.
Stay aware of your stress signals. If you feel your body temperature rising, your heart pound or your grip tightening, take a step back and ask for a break. Also, try to avoid confrontation while you’re tired or stressed out by a bad day.
The Silent Partner
Whether you feel intimidated or proud, eventually you Just. Stop. Talking. Maybe you’ve convinced yourself that saying nothing is better than saying the hurtful things on your mind.
Note: if this is continuous through every disagreement, you may want to consider seeking help in your relationship through couples therapy.
The silent partner doesn’t express emotion, for various reasons, from feeling ashamed and too proud to admit it to feeling like their voice won’t truly be heard, to trying to control the situation by shutting down when things don’t go their way.
If you identify with any of these reasonings, the fix is simple–talk. Okay, you may not think it’s so simple, but you will feel a sense of relief in your relationship. Ask yourself, ‘Is my fear or pride more important than my relationship?’ This should give you the push you need to try to calmly express yourself, rather than shutting your partner out.
As much as your partner tries to get a word in, let’s face it they don’t stand a chance. Your partner may seem like the silent type to you, but the truth is you’ve probably been talking non-stop for 15 minutes and they haven’t had a chance to get a word in. On the other hand, your partner may get the chance to voice their concerns, but if you’re not listening to those concerns and just subconsciously require your voice to be heard, it has the same effect.
Listening is key for you. Try to stay conscious of how long you’ve been speaking and take cues from your partner. A good way to do this is taking turns. When they have the floor, listen and try to hear what they are saying to you. It’s just as important as when you’re voicing your concerns and needs.
Whether you’ve been a silent partner or a yeller in the past, the first step is talking to your partner about your desire to improve your communication. Discuss your individual struggles with communication and don’t be afraid to ask them how they believe you can improve. This may inspire them to work on themselves as well. Making these improvements in your relationship will also make you more conscious of how you speak with friends, family and colleagues.