Communicating well is about connecting meaningfully.

It’s more than taking inventory. It’s more than exchanging information.

It’s more than obligatory conversation and routine platitudes.

Your relationships deserve more.

They’ll flourish when you make effective communication a priority.

Effective is the operative word.

Most of us can afford to take our communication capacity up a notch.

When we do, our relationships will benefit greatly in some key ways.

First, understand your communication mission.

Effective communication clearly and respectfully sends your intended message.

It ensures the other person feels seen, heard, and understood as well.

You want what you intended to say, to be received without misunderstanding.

You want your relationship partner to know you are listening, and feel confident that you got their point.

To accomplish this, the necessary skills include clear, responsive nonverbals, engaged listening, the ability to diffuse tension, assertiveness, and the capacity to comprehend your needs and that of the other person.

When you’ve built some communication competency, you’ll start to enjoy the following relationship benefits:

Emotional awareness increases and fosters healthy emotional exchange.

The more effectively you and your partner communicate by addressing your feelings and needs and take into account the emotional context of your comments, positions, or concerns will foster a better understanding of the nuances and backstories of each other’s actions and become easier to make sense of what is going on.

Compassion and empathy become integral to your interactions.

For example, effective communicators are better able to hear a partner say, “I would really like you to pick up after yourself more.” and manage the ensuing emotion. He or she can dissect his or her own initial irritated response, and put it in perspective. Quickly, he or she can then choose to translate his or her partner’s request by understanding that a tidy home means relaxation and peace, rather than have a negative reaction. From there, he or she can decide how to honor the request or negotiate household chores in a calm, respectful way.

Conflict, tension, and disagreement are tempered with compassion and clear relationship goals.

The beauty of effective communication is, in large part, due to how effectively conflict is addressed. Regardless of whether specific problems are solved, the tension between partners is resolved. Partners work out the key points of an issue without a power struggle. Ultimately, they look for ways to come back together. Relationships feel safer, more satisfying, and more stable.

Relationship expert John Gottman notes that satisfied couples make sincere attempts to keep their relationship healthy by effectively de-escalating conflict. Taking breaks, self-soothing behaviors, and attempts to repair communication ruptures are vital. Communication is still respectful and responsive, focused on each other– not “winning” the argument.

Gottman famously identified four damaging communication patterns in his research that are highly predictive of divorce. He called them “The Four Horsemen” of marital apocalypse: criticism, defensiveness, contempt and stonewalling. He also noted that effective listening, makes a huge relationship difference.  Happy couples were more prone to listen to each other’s point of view, attempt to understand it, and accept that problems may not be solvable without damaging their union.

Effective communication binds and connects your relationship.

Whether it’s a partner, your sibling, or your best friend, strong communication ensures a more connected relationship. Your relationship is your own. No person or circumstance can drive a wedge between you. Your relationship is solid because you’re doing the work, and maintaining the kind of communication that alerts you to trouble, as soon as you notice it.

Effective communication is that relationship “secret” everyone is always looking for. Building the skills you need takes time, effort, and often some professional guidance, but that’s okay. It’s worth the effort to create relationships that are rewarding and long-lasting.

By CounselingWise on August 17, 2015