How do I communicate better in my relationship?
Our brains are hardwired to defend ourselves in conflict, and yet most of us take a violent approach to conversation which only increases conflicts. For instance have you ever said the following to the one you love….
“You NEVER listen to me!”
“You don’t CARE ABOUT ANYTHING I tell you!”
“You NEVER tell me that you’re coming home late from work!”
These are all examples of Violent Communication. They are generalized, non-specific and don’t tell the listener how you feel. They are therefore unproductive, opinion based and positions that put those hearing the comments on immediate defence.
So instead of working towards a resolution you’ve created additional conflict.
This approach is also missing one other crucial element - the human factor.
In Non Violent Communication, by Marshall Rosenberg PhD (be sure to get the audio version, not the book), Dr Rosenberg describes the common mistakes his patients and most people take in conversations with their husbands and wives.
Dr Rosenberg instead recommends taking an approach that is SPECIFIC and includes simple explanations of EMOTION. The approach is FACT based and non-judgemental.
I’ve provided samples below.
Keep in mind that the biggest challenge in taking this approach is staying level headed enough to use them in our moments of anger and frustration with the ones we love the most.
BUT if you use the approaches correctly, they will help create a verbal dialogue PATHWAY that clearly communicates the concern.
Non-violent Communication Solutions for:
1. “You NEVER listen to me!”
Solution: “Ten minutes ago, I was telling you about my workday but you didn’t seem to be listening? That makes me sad and disappointed. I was trying to tell you something that really bothered me.”
SOLUTION NOTE: By providing a specific example your partner will have no choice but to reflect and confirm if it’s true or not. They can then explain WHY they were not listening at that exact time. Perhaps they too had something on their mind preventing them from listening. AND by adding in that them not listening made you SAD, it tells them in simple terms that their actions hurt you.
2. “You don’t CARE ABOUT ANYTHING I tell you!”
Solution: “Today after work, and yesterday after work, I was telling you about my workday but you didn’t seem to be listening? That makes me sad and disappointed. I was trying to tell you something that really bothered me.”
SOLUTION NOTE: Similar to solution #1 above, this one provides TWO examples of specific examples that your partner will need to process to either confirm or explain. It provides a pathway to discuss what’s going on in the morning
3. “You NEVER tell me that you’re coming home late from work!”
Solution: “Today you came home at 7pm and did not call or text me to let me know. You usually come home around 6pm. I was worried about you. And this happened last Wednesday as well. It makes me sad that you did this.”
SOLUTION NOTE: Again providing specific examples and simplified feelings is the way towards a quick resolution. Also notice that you are not demanding a specific action like a phone call. This allows your partner to provide a remedy to the issue, which may not even be a phone call, but rather a reminder that each Wednesday night is bootcamp class. Bootcamp runs from 530pm - 630pm.
This #3 example was a real one for my wife and I. It turned out my wife had recently signed up for bootcamp but I had forgotten she had told me. So to remedy the situation she sent me a txt a few hours before the next class on Wednesday.
Try these examples and communication tools with your partner next time and let us know how it goes!
With practice you’ll teach your brain to take this approach each time there’s something on your mind!
Thanks and I hope this helped someone out there. For more life tips, relationship advice and thought provoking ideas be sure to visit us at