Breaking Free from Communication Barriers in Relationships

We’ve all been told that communication is critical in relationships. The problem is that most of us were taught to suppress what we’d like to communicate in one way or another. Being taught to be nice to someone who wasn’t nice to us, say you’re sorry when you’re not, was a training ground for unhealthy communication. 

To add to it, many of us grew up in homes where healthy communication was also lacking. We witnessed silent treatments, passive aggressive communication, aggressive communication, avoidance, submission, and the list goes on. 

When we meet someone special and are told to communicate with each other, we think we have this in the bag until there’s a problem that needs to be discussed. Now we’re in trouble. We try one strategy after another, nothing works, and we find ourselves spiraling downward into a relationship that is not what we signed up for. 

Sound familiar? You’re not alone. This was my experience for most of my life which led to a series of unhealthy and unfulfilling relationships. 

What do you do if you’re stuck in the spiral? 

Here are some strategies that have helped both me and my clients improve communication skills and strengthen that most important relationship.

Tip 1 – Be clear about the issue. 

This is the most important as far as I’m concerned. Being clear about the issues doesn’t mean being able to articulate well. It means you having clarity about what’s going on and why this is an issue in the first place. 

This is how I coach this practice. Think of an issue that has come up for you lately. Maybe a conversation that didn’t go the way you wanted or one you’re trying to avoid having. What’s the issue? Why is that an issue? And why is that an issue? And why is that an issue? What’s important about that?

Keep going until you are so very crystal clear about the topic that you can share with a new level of awareness. If you have all of this figured out very quickly, you’re not going deep enough. Find the next layer. 

The deeper you go with the questioning, the more clear you will be about the issue, and the better your communication will be.

Tip 2 – Be honest in your communication.

We’re usually pretty good at sending mixed messages. Queue, “I’m fine. No really, I’m fine.” You’re not fine, and your partner knows you’re not fine. Say what’s going on if you want your relationship to change. 

One of the mistakes I see my clients make is sharing a truth then backpedaling. They talk with their partner about a topic of concern and then back down when things become uncomfortable. Being honest in your communication requires a little practice in sitting with discomfort and holding to your truth and message. 

Tip 3 – Listen fully. 

Have you noticed how rarely people truly listen? Yes, that includes you, me, all of us. We typically listen to respond. We’re looking for a window to jump in with our experience or to get our point across. Worse is when we’re multitasking and saying, “I’m listening” when we’re actually not. 

In my groups, I teach a simple tool called Voice Mirroring to help you train your mind to listen. Next time your partner is talking, repeat what they’re saying word for word in your mind as they’re speaking. You’ll be a word or two behind but will be able to pick up more detail and stay focused. 

Remain Open Hearted

As you practice these three tips, remember to come to every conversation with an open heart. Drop expectations and ego at the door and allow the magic of the Universe to do it’s thing. Communication isn’t one way, it’s not about being right or wrong. It’s about two people coming together to learn how to support each other better than they had before. 

That strong foundation you desire and deserve is possible when you gain clarity, ensure honesty, and listen fully. 

Until next time,
Tonya Marie

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