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How to Fix Lack of Communication in a Relationship

how to fix a lack of communication

How to Fix Lack of Communication in a Relationship

It’s amazing to me that certain things aren’t taught in school, like how to engage in effective dialogue or how to do your taxes.  I mean, I know I certainly haven’t used Pythagorean’s Theorem since Math 30 in grade 12, but I have certainly had to learn how to talk, listen, do my taxes, change a car battery and clean an oven all on my own – life skills used regularly! 

Hmmm..something is missing here…..

We Can All Talk Talk Talk But Can We Communicate?

Just because we can all talk, does not mean we know how to communicate effectively. The art of communication skills is a learned and practiced skill.  

Add in perceived conflict or high-stakes emotions, and unless you are truly committed to the art of truly conversing, it’s almost impossible to clearly communicate AND be heard or validate the other side of the discussion.  

Most of us actually do not realize that high-stakes conversations need to be carved out when emotions are regulated and managed, and expectations are reasonable. 

Again, why isn’t this taught in school?!

Not knowing how to manage your emotions or check yourself will intercept your ultimate goals and blow everything up.  For example, your ultimate goal may be to have a respectful exchange with your ex-spouse for the kids, but every time you talk to each other, your defence mechanism is triggered and you end up in a yelling match about who should be buying underwear.

What Causes Lack of Communication in Relationships?

The main things that cause a lack of good communication in a relationship are finances, infidelity, control and time. A communication breakdown can easily occur while managing these issues. Usually, emotions and expectations are a significant part of the reason that these hot button topics cause conflict and communication problems.

The other side of the issue is that we typically want to get defensive during these conversations and protect ourselves. This only serves to add to the problem by creating a stalemate.

Getting Defensive is Common 

It’s human nature to get defensive. That is our reptilian brain kicking in – our fight or flight mechanism.  We automatically go into full protection mode when we feel threatened, even with words.  One cannot effectively make any sort of logical decision or remark when in this state.  Scientifically, it is pure emotion – and what I mean by that, is all the blood is in our emotional brain, and our logical brain is devoid of fuel.  

How Can We Solve Lack of Communication?

We can, however, learn to recognize when this is happening, and how to regulate ourselves before saying something or making a decision that we will ultimately regret.  We can learn to recognize how long it takes for us to calm ourselves and get back into logical thinking.

We can learn what tools we can use to calm or regulate ourselves in order to continue the productive dialogue.

Manage Your Ego

How do we set our ego aside, and communicate our feelings, thoughts and actions safely knowing that the other side is without judgement, hearing, validating, understanding and then formulating their response?

That seems like it would take forever, but all it takes is practice.  

Commit to Listening

Listen to hear.

By showing yourself and the person you are in a dialogue with, reflect back on what they said so they know you heard their words.

Seems redundant, but it is a tremendous tool for hearing and almost immediately validates the other person’s opinion, position, perspective or feelings. 

Which makes them open their ears for when its your turn to talk!  Cool, right?!

Use Your Curiosity to Increase Your Own Engagement

Get curious about what the other person is saying.  If something doesn’t jive or you still aren’t understanding what they are trying to say, don’t tell them how it is, with block statements like “I don’t get you.” or “I don’t believe that.” Instead, ask them with statements like “Help me understand______” or “I heard you say ______ can you explain a little more.”  

Using The Right Body Language

Using the right body language is an important part of communication. If you’re slouched and kinda lazy looking, it can seem as though you are not interested in the conversation. Or if you roll your eyes at everything your partner is saying, can come off as rude. If you choose to cross your arms the entire conversation it could be perceived as unapproachable.

Adjusting your body language to the conversation to be more approachable and engaged can lead to good communication skills. Even nodding during the conversation shows, especially at a partner’s point shows that you are listening and involved.

Use Communication Techniques like Breathing, and Pausing

Make space in the conversation.  Before you begin to voice your side, ask if they are finished, if there is anything they missed, or they feel that you didn’t hear.

Approach each exchange with respect.  Ask permission to go next and hopefully, they too listen to hear. And, the cycle of mature conversation starts all over again.

Remember, there is always an opportunity to ask for space.  If you feel your blood boiling, or sending theirs for that matter, it’s always an option to end the conversation, park it and save it for a time when you’re both clear and ready to attack the topics at hand with clear minds and open hearts. This leads to good communication and a healthy relationship.

Choose to Be The Bigger Person, and Create Better Healthy Communication

These simple practices create a space of reflection, validation and possibility for new learnings in a conversation.  We have all forgotten how to listen as we are all busy waiting to talk.  If we take the time, energy and space to listen, imagine what possible learnings and new opportunities are right in front of you.  

“Speak when you are angry, and you will make the best speech you will ever regret.” – Ambrose Bierce

How to Fix Lack of Communication in a Relationship Heidi Dinning
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For more info on co-parenting communications, visit our page on Coparenting.

If you or someone you know is facing separation or divorce and don’t know where to begin, that’s where I can help. I act as emotional support, thinking partner and guide for you, so you can retain your dignity, find clarity and feel hopeful for the future. To learn more, visit our certified divorce coaching page. 

Fixing Communication FAQs

How Do I Improve My Communication Skills?

There are many ways to improve communication and specifically relationship communication, but here are three effective strategies that can be helpful:

  1. Active Listening: One important way to improve communication and overcome communication issues is to practice active listening. This involves giving your full attention to the person speaking, using nonverbal cues like eye contact and nodding to show you are engaged, and asking clarifying questions to ensure you understand their message. Active listening can help you understand the other person’s perspective and show them that you value their input.
  2. Use “I” Statements: When expressing your thoughts or feelings, using “I” statements can be more effective than “you” statements. For example, instead of saying “you never listen to me,” try saying “I feel frustrated when I don’t feel heard.” This approach can help avoid blaming the other person and instead focus on your own feelings and experiences. Many communication issues arise from blame and finger-pointing, especially in intimate relationships. You can maintain healthy communication and healthy relationships with “I” statements…it really helps communicate on a deeper level.
  3. Practice Empathy: Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of another person. Practicing empathy can help improve communication by allowing you to connect with the other person on an emotional level. You can show empathy by acknowledging their feelings, asking questions to better understand their perspective, and expressing understanding or support. This can create a more positive and collaborative environment for good communication. Many communication issues stem from one person feeling like they are not being heard, or that the other person doesn’t care about what is being communicated. Practising empathy towards others can remove a lot of the tension in a relationship. Bad communication begins with what is best for you, and not really trying to hear what the other person is saying.

How do you overcome a lack of communication or bad communication?

Lack of communication or poor communication can be a significant challenge in any relationship, but there are steps you can take to overcome it. Here are some strategies that may help:

  1. Be proactive: If you notice a lack of communication in your relationship, take the initiative to start the conversation. It can be difficult to break the silence, but sometimes just taking the first step can encourage your partner to do the same.
  2. Set aside time for communication: Make sure you and your partner have dedicated time to talk without distractions. This could be a specific time of day or a designated day of the week when you sit down and focus on each other.
  3. Be an active listener: When your partner is speaking, make sure you are actively listening. Pay attention to their bodies language and tone of voice, and ask questions to clarify any points that you may not understand.
  4. Be patient: Sometimes it takes time for people to open up and communicate effectively. If your partner is hesitant to speak, be patient and try not to force them to share more than they’re comfortable with.
  5. Seek outside help: If you’re struggling to communicate with your partner, consider seeking outside help from a counselor or therapist. A professional can help you both identify communication patterns and provide strategies for improving your communication skills.

Remember that communication is a two-way street, so it’s important to be open and honest with your partner about your own thoughts and feelings as well. By making a conscious effort to improve communication, you can strengthen your relationship and deepen your connection.

What Does Good Communication Look Like?

Good communication is a skill that can be developed and improved over time. It involves the effective exchange of information, ideas, feelings, and thoughts between individuals or groups. Sometimes the best way to fix communication problems or bad communication in a relationship is to understand what good communication would actually look like. Not everyone gets help with this in the course of their life, and many people need to incorporate various changes in their style to improve their communication.

Here are some key characteristics of good communication, when considering how to fix lack of communication in a relationship these items should be at the top of the list.

  1. Clarity: Good communication is clear and concise, with a well-defined purpose. It avoids jargon and overly complex language, ensuring that the message is easily understood by the intended audience.
  2. Active Listening: Good communicators listen actively, allowing others to express their thoughts and feelings. They give their full attention, ask questions for clarification, and show empathy and understanding. The idea here is that you actually know what your partner’s feelings are towards the issue, and how you can share in a resolution if needed.
  3. Nonverbal Communication: Effective communicators understand and use nonverbal cues, such as facial expressions, gestures, and body position to reinforce their message and show engagement.
  4. Empathy: Good communication involves putting oneself in another person’s shoes and understanding their feelings and perspectives. This helps in building trust and rapport. Empathy can also lead to emotional intimacy by showing the other person that you actually care about them and what they are saying.
  5. Adaptability: Effective communicators can adapt their communication style and approach to fit the audience, situation, and context. This may involve adjusting tone, vocabulary, and medium of communication.
  6. Open-mindedness: Good communicators are open to feedback and willing to consider alternative viewpoints. They are receptive to constructive criticism and can adjust their message or approach when necessary.
  7. Organization: Effective communication is well-organized, with a logical flow of ideas and a clear structure. This helps the audience follow the message more easily and enhances understanding.
  8. Confidence: Good communicators deliver their message confidently and assertively, without being overly aggressive or passive. They express their thoughts and opinions with conviction, while still being open to feedback and other perspectives.
  9. Timing: Effective communication involves choosing the right time and place to deliver a message. Good communicators consider the needs and preferences of their audience and avoid interrupting or delivering messages at inopportune moments.
  10. Follow-up: Good communication doesn’t end with the initial message. Effective communicators follow up to ensure that their message was understood, address any questions or concerns, and provide additional information or support as needed.

By incorporating these characteristics into your communication, you can improve your ability to connect with others, convey your ideas, and resolve conflicts more effectively. Many communication issues can be resolved by incorporating these things into your daily conversations.

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