If you haven’t noticed I’m big on communication. It really is the foundation of every relationship in your life, not just the romantic ones. A few weeks back I discussed how to improve your communication by improving the way you listen. Today I’m going to focus on how to create a space where both you and your partner feel safe sharing just about anything.
A lot of us avoid confrontation. We don’t want to make a big deal out of something small, or don’t feel like our partner would understand because of a way they’ve reacted in the past. Holding it in will just create more issues for you as the problem escalates in your head to no resolve.
To create a space in your relationship to share completely and honestly is a joint effort. Both parties have to commit to creating this space together. Here are ways you and your partner can behave when communicating to create a safe place to share.
DON’T BE JUDGMENTAL
We covered this in the better listener article, but it’s important to readdress this topic here. If a person feels judged, they will not continue to share with you honestly. They’ll assume that you think of them in a specific way and that you wont be able to see things from their perspective. Judgments have no place in the space you’re creating.
DON’T BE DEFENSIVE
When someone is expressing himself or herself to you, it’s important not to get defensive. Often times their issue isn’t really about you (it’s just one of those days). Even when it is about you, try to listen from their perspective. You’re coming together to listen, resolve and create something new for your relationship. Being defensive will only create tension.
DON’T MAKE LIGHT OF THE CONVERSATION
We don’t all do this on purpose. Sometimes people use humor to help deflate a heavy situation. Problem is that humor, especially when pointed at the party expressing themselves, can occur as you belittling or not taking the person seriously. There’s a time and place for humor, but it’s not when someone is telling you their deeper thoughts.
BE PRESENT AND LISTEN
This is another recurring topic when I talk about communication, but staying present and truly listening is hard work. This is a habit you have to practice daily. How awful would you feel if you just shared some of your innermost thoughts and the other person wasn’t paying attention? Disconnect from the TV, phones and your kids when you’re looking to communicate deeply and honestly.
Practice these habits of communication together and you’ll be sure to see a different side of your partner. It’s through communication that we build the foundation of our relationship and deepen our bond.