How to Improve Communication in a Relationship

How to Improve Communication in a Relationship

Last update: 28 July, 2017

Arguments tend to attract negative emotions like honey attracts bees. These conflicts often arise due to communication issues — we don’t know how to express our opinions or feelings very well. This can lead our partners to misunderstand us or feel attacked.

But that isn’t the only problem. On top of knowing how to communicate, it’s also very important to know how to listen. Actually receiving the information that the other person is trying to convey will prevent unnecessary tension. That way, we can avoid misunderstandings and it will be easier to empathize with them.

“When we reveal ourselves to our partner and find that this brings healing rather than harm, we make an important discovery – that intimate relationship can provide a sanctuary from the world of facades.”

-John Welwood-

Communication skills in a relationship

When facing the problems that can arise from relationship conflicts, good communication skills are perhaps the best tool that you can use to find a joint solution. The best ingredients for this solution are respect, understanding, and tact.

It’s also important to learn to communicate at the right time, since we sometimes say things at the wrong time, which causes the interaction with the other person to be less than ideal.

couple near lake

Problems also occur when we make a habit of guessing what our partner is thinking or feeling, because we’re usually wrong in the conclusions that we make. We also tend to generalize – “You’re always indifferent,” “You never listen to me,” “You’re clueless,” – instead of specifying what we like and don’t like. It’s important for our nonverbal behavior to go along with what we’re saying, instead of being contradictory.

How can we improve communication in our relationships?

Regarding nonverbal behavior, it’s necessary to keep the following points in mind. First of all, in interpersonal communication, it’s important to maintain eye contact, as well as a facial expression that’s appropriate for the situation and what you’re trying to say. Your posture should indicate that you’re paying attention to the other person. And finally, we recommend that the volume and tone of your voice are calm and deliberate.

“The most important thing in communication is hearing what isn’t said.”

-Peter Drucker-

To avoid making your own interpretations about each other, it’s important to swap general language for more operational language. If you focus on observable and quantifiable descriptions, you won’t fall into the trap of generalization. Remember to emphasize positive information, communicate in the appropriate place and context, and use appropriate nonverbal language.

On a related note, it’s necessary to express the pleasant emotions you’re experiencing and acknowledge the things they’re doing that you like. But you also have to be able to communicate negative feelings. You should be able to explain to your partner how you felt about something that happened without starting a fight. For this to happen, social skills are essential.

How to have a good conversation

Aside from knowing how to express what you’re thinking and feeling towards the other person and your relationship, it’s important to be able to have conversations with each other. You have to ask questions, follow the conversation, listen to your partner, and be able to close the dialogue.

“Everything is possible when the door of communication is open.”

-Thich Nhat Hanh-

One important thing to practice is your listening skills. Specifically, you have to pay attention to eye contact, as well as your physical orientation and proximity to the other person. To show them that you’re listening, you can summarize what they’re saying and then ask for confirmation to ensure that you’ve correctly understood them.

It’s also good to work on your speaking skills. It’s important to express yourself in the first person, using short phrases. When it comes to making requests, you should also speak in first person, in a positive way, and reference specific behaviors. It’s more effective to say “I would like it if we went for a walk,” than “you always plop down on the couch and we never do anything together.”


Do you see the difference? These two messages wouldn’t be received the same, even though the goal is the same (leaving the house and spending time together as a couple). Communication is a fundamental part of relationships, and properly expressing ourselves can be the difference between a healthy and satisfying relationship and a damaging and toxic one.

Images courtesy of Redd Angelo and Freestocks.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.