10 Communication Mistakes Made in Every Relationship
Good communication is the key to any successful relationship. Good communication will look different for every couple, but there are some core principles that you should keep in mind when trying to effectively communicate with your partner. In addition to core principles, there are also common mistakes that you should look out for when you are in a relationship. Here are ten communication mistakes made in every relationship, and some ideas you can use to troubleshoot these common problems:
1. Forgetting to listen
When we discuss communication, the first thing that comes to everyone’s mind is talking. But that’s only half of the equation. Effective communication requires effective listening, which means actively hearing what your partner is saying, engaging with what they are saying through questions or comments and giving them space to say everything they need to say. A common communication mistake in many relationships is forgetting to listen to your partner. Sometimes we are so busy thinking of our response/rebuttal, that we fail to actually hear our partner out, which is a huge communication mistake.
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When you are communicating with your partner, aka when they are talking to you, you not only need to listen to them, but you need to listen to them without interrupting!! Interrupting your partner (or anyone for that matter), is extremely rude, and will prevent them from feeling like they can share their feelings. A lot of the time, people don’t necessarily realize when they are interrupting you. Oftentimes, people are so focused on their rebuttal or what they want to say that they completely interrupt other’s trains of thoughts. Other times, people believe they know what you will say and want to respond before you have had your chance to fully articulate your thought. This is not always done intentionally, so if you find that your partner is doing this to you, it can be helpful to call it to their attention in a calm and polite way. Saying things like, “hey, I would really like to finish my thought”, or “going back to what I was saying” can help you redirect the conversation so that you can finish saying your piece. In order to have good communication in a relationship, both partners should be able to speak without being interrupted. Holding yourself and your partner to these standards will facilitate better communication.
- Using “you” statements
Arguments are an important part of communication as a couple. Not all conversations can be positive and pleasant, so learning how to effectively fight as a couple is crucial to developing good communication. When you are fighting with your partner, it is important to avoid using “you” statements like “you don’t listen to me” or “you hurt my feelings”. These kinds of statements are very accusatory, and will put your partner on the defense instead of focusing their attention on hearing you. Instead of using these kinds of blame statements, focus on “I” statements. Saying things like “I don’t feel heard” or “I have had my feelings hurt” will encourage your partner to see things from your perspective and listen to your side of the story. They will then (hopefully) look at how their actions could have caused these things, and you will be able to have a mature and effective conversation about how to move forward.
4. Expecting your partner to be a mindreader
Yes, nonverbal communication is a legitimate form of communication, but if there is something you really need your partner to know, it’s important that you communicate it to them verbally. A lot of the time, people think that if they leave hints (both subtle and not so subtle) that their partners will eventually catch on and understand what they want. But this is rarely the case. If you expect your partner to understand what you want without spelling it out for them, you will end up frustrated and your needs will not be met. Use verbal communication to articulate your needs so that your partner understands how to support you and what you need. More often than not, they will appreciate the straightforwardness, and you will appreciate feeling heard and supported.
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5. Focusing too much on compromise
A common misconception is that the ideal way to end an argument is through compromise. People believe that if there is a disagreement, both sides should have to come to a mutually beneficial solution. But in reality, this rarely happens, and focusing too much on compromise can actually stunt effective communication. While compromise is important, you should not focus too much on compromise when you are having an argument. For non-confrontational people, it might seem easier to not speak your mind and just get the conflict over with as soon as possible. But in the long-run, it’s much better to prolong the conflict, speak your mind and air out all of your grievances. Failure to do this will lead you to holding a grudge or feeling unseen/unheard by your partner.
6. Failing to acknowledge your partner’s point of view
Communication is about hearing your partner out and trying to see things from their perspective. Even if you think that you’re right, it’s important to see where your partner is coming from, so that you can understand how they processed the situation and why they acted in a certain way. Even if you are not having a fight or conflict, it’s helpful to consider your partner’s point of view so that you can be a more compassionate listener and partner. Refusing to acknowledge your partner’s perspective can cause them to feel alienated in the relationship, which will lead to poor communication and likely larger problems as well.
7. Not fully understanding what your partner is saying
It can be very difficult to say what’s on your mind, especially in a way that accurately expresses yourself and is understood by your partner. A lot of the time, we assume that we are making our points clear to our partners, but the fact of the matter is, that is not always the case. Sometimes your partner will have a totally different take away than what you intended. Whether they misread your tone, or just completely misunderstand your point, it’s hard to know if they are following what you are saying. A good solution is to summarize each other’s points after an important discussion. Doing this a) proves to your partner that you were listening in the first place and b) ensures that you both actually understood what the other was saying. This doesn’t mean you have to agree with what was said, but just acknowledge their argument so that everyone is one the same page about what was said.
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8. Over communicating
Yes, communication can solve a lot of relationship problems, but there is such a thing as TOO much communication. Especially too much negative communication. It’s not necessary for your partner to always know what is on your mind, think of “if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all”. It can be easy to get frustrated with your partner from time to time, but it’s unnecessary to bring up every criticism or problem that you have. Communicating all of your qualms will lead your partner to feel knit picked and judged.
9. The silent treatment
When talking about communication this should probably go unsaid... but do not give your partner the silent treatment! If you are upset, you need to verbalize what upset you and what your feelings are. It can be difficult to put complicated feelings to words in the exact moment, but instead of leaving the room, or giving the silent treatment, use proactive language like “I am upset and would like to talk about this after I have processed my emotions” or something along those lines. If you can’t communicate effectively in a moment of hurt or anger, make your position clear and agree to unpack the situation once things have cooled off. Acknowledging that you are not ready to talk about something just yet is a mature way to defer difficult conversations until you are ready to talk about them.
10. Knowing the right moment
Sometimes things come to a boiling point, and there is no way that you can contain your emotions or have a civil discussion. While this is never an ideal scenario, it does happen from time to time. That being said, most of the time you should be able to choose your moments strategically and avoid blowouts at inopportune times. If there is something on your mind that you need to discuss with your partner, you should try and bring it up at the right moment. While no moment is the right moment to have a hard discussion, you should choose a moment when you and your partner both have some time to talk things through, not when your partner is walking out of the door or your friends are about to come over.... Knowing the right moment to have a discussion, and picking your battles will set up more productive communication.
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