Shelter-in-place due to the COVID-19 outbreak has been in place for months now, and while it’ll be long before life as we knew it resumes its usual course, many of us can relate to feeling frustrated.
It’s not easy to be at home indefinitely, especially if you’ve had to move back to be with family or working-from-home (WFH), and so is your partner. It’s wonderful to have time to slow down and be together; there’s no doubt about that. However, being in such proximity can be frustrating. This is why you need to work on your communication.
Try the following tips to make communication more open, honest, and free-flowing:
Learning each others’ language
This includes understanding your partner’s preferred mediums of communication, what irks them, and how you can work around that to be better and form a stronger bond. The key to better communication is to be completely open and honest with each other. Beating around the bush only leads to more miscommunication. While you don’t have to disregard each others’ communication styles, you should be mindful of mincing words, taking things out of context and being vague.
Read cues and non-verbal signs
Non-verbal communication is one of the most neglected areas of a relationship. However, nobody is a mind reader, and it’s not fair to expect that role of yourself or your partner. But communication is often about what’s unsaid than what is said. Pay attention to the tone, body language, posture, because they can be very telling.
When your parent or partner tells you, “It’s okay,” but their tone and body language tells you otherwise, trust your gut. Use that opportunity to open the conversation up, even if it’s difficult.
Often, the things unsaid are those that cause the most pent up frustration.
Keeping an open mind when you’re together
It’s easy to feel defensive or be on the offence when you feel threatened by something. Whether it’s a criticism of your habit or choice or struggling to admit to a mistake, it can be easy to get defensive and hold your ground. If they tell you they’re hurt by something you did, instead of being defensive and offering justifications, hear them out.
Practice active listening, not just for the sake of making them feel heard. Take in what they have to say without jumping to respond. Similarly, hold your own and demand respect—you deserve to be heard out.
Communication is a process of giving and taking and honest exchange. If you approach it with a lack of impulse control, you’re likely to dig a deeper hole. It’s also okay to admit that you need help working on your communication. Sometimes an objective third party through relationship counselling helps. I’m offering my services to families and couples across Palo Alto, offering couples counseling and various services online.
Reach out to my clinic or give me a call for a free phone consultation.