Better Learning to Communicate | But how?

communicate better in a relationship

Good communication is the key to healthy relationships', a statement that is underlined by many. However, this is easier said than done. In this article I would like to take you with me in my ideas about good and constructive communication.

In my work at the court, I regularly hear parents say that they need to work on their mutual communication. Until recently, I often heard myself say this. Until I asked myself critically what exactly this means: "working on communication".

When I ask parents the following question, `what do you think the other parent wants for your child?', many of them answer that the other parent 'must change'.

On the basis of this answer, I establish two things:

  • I don't get an answer to my question
  • This parent is not able to see what the other parent wants to do and reach for their child.

When I place this last point in the context of improving communication, I can see that the first step in this process is hearing and understanding the other parent. In other words, hearing and understanding what the other parent wants to achieve for their child(ren). The second step is to check if your experience is actually correct. This insight may offer an immediate opening or shift of how the other parent could be looked at.

Yesterday I spoke to a good friend about the communication problems in her relationship. She wants to live with her partner and instead of moving in together, she wants to find a new home together. Because they both have a totally different, outspoken style, they discussed the furnishing of the new house.

My friend asked her partner what colours of paint for the walls would appeal to him. To her surprise he hardly reacted. The absence of his reaction made her doubt how he thought about living together in general. However, I asked her about her choice to discuss the wall colours with her partner.
She replied: "because the rest of the house has already been decorated in great detail!

For me this was a wonderful example of how important it is to communicate well in the first stage. Her partner probably understood that when the first subject is the colour of wall paint, his future life companion would take a different starting point than himself.

Laughing at me, she wanted to know how she could have discussed it differently.

When these two lovers want to discover exactly what they are looking for in a house that is nice for both of them, the following topics are important:

  • The atmosphere of the rooms that makes the house a home for them.
  • Which rooms they individually need and what these rooms have to comply with. Where do they meet in spaces they share together?

An entirely different way of discussing this subject is a more process-oriented approach. This means; first defining the most important topics and themes together and then taking the time to work everything out together. And to enjoy the journey together, instead of the final result to be achieved.

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