We believe the source of most relationship problems is a breakdown in communication between individuals.
Improving communication skills can be a long process of breaking unhealthy communication patterns and learning new ones. There is an amazing movement called NVC – Nonviolent Communication, which has superb tools to effectively improve those skills. If you have the time to learn this incredibly helpful application, we highly recommend going to a course or reading a book on the subject.
However, there are other ways to improve communication skills. We’d like to share with you two tools we use in our daily life that will be useful before you begin practicing relationship communication like NVC:
The first tool on how to improve communication skills, which is really more of a tip, is the “I feel” tool. If a conversation is heated, start your sentences with “I feel…” and then truly express what you feel. Don’t accuse, don’t speculate – only focus on yourself and express what is happening inside you at that moment.
If you want to improve just one communication skill – this is the one. You’d be surprised how effective this technique is, even if only one of you uses it.
No one can argue with a genuine expression of feelings. No one can tell you that you don’t feel the way you feel. If you think something, they may say you’re wrong, they can show you why you’re mistaken, and will try to convince you otherwise. When you feel something, it raises no resistance, because you’re not blaming anyone.
If you can get your partner to do the same, it’ll take you to a new level of communication – one from the heart, rather than the mind.
Sharing: The second tool on how to improve communication skills.
The sharing concept is the most fundamental in our relationship, and it’s always surprising. It started while we were traveling in Central America. After 3-4 months of travelling, Lali suggested that we do a “sharing evening”. We gave it a try and both of us were so surprised that after being together 24-7, at the end of the day, we always had something interesting from our inner heart to share! To this day day, 4 years after we started this activity, we still share at least once a week.
Sharing is different than an ordinary dialog, in the sense that sharing gives a space to express oneself, knowing no one will intervene in the middle of the share, and the whole space is only for the one who shares. The role of the other person is only to listen.
How do we do it? When there is something on our heart, or even just times when we are together, like after dinner, we decide we want to do a sharing, and one of us starts. The other one just listens.
Although it’s hard at first not to react to things that are shared, in time it gets easier and it becomes habit to fully listen to the other person. The one who shares gets the opportunity to have an emotional and mental sequence, which sometimes helps to get to deeper feelings than if there was a discussion on the matter.
Skip the technical details (the time you left work, how much time the train delayed, etc), and focus on the feelings and sensations that have had an impact on you for better or worse.
After the first person finishes sharing, he or she can ask for comments or can ask for there to be no comments. Only then, once the first person is completely done sharing, may the other partner start sharing.
We highly recommend combining these two tools, and use “I feel” when you share.
You don’t have to wait for the next argument or rough patch to start using these tools – start using them today! The more you practice them in your daily life, the easier it’ll be to use them when things are heating up or when you need to connect with your partner. Give it a try. Improving your communication skills couldn’t be easier!
If you’d like to more ways on how to improve your communication skills, check out some of our awesome communication activities in our ebook.