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Resolving poor communication in your relationship

Resolving poor communication in relationships requires awareness, practice, effort, and time. Every couple faces challenges, and communication is often at the heart of these issues.

Recognising and addressing these problems together is crucial. While there may be struggles, it’s equally important to celebrate what works well and build on those successes.

1. Recognise Negative Communication Styles

Our communication styles are shaped by influences from parents, teachers, mentors, and peers, especially in our early years. Here are some common styles:

  • Passive-aggressive: Indirectly expressing negative feelings through sarcasm, procrastination, or subtle undermining.
  • Aggressive: Expressing feelings and opinions forcefully, often disregarding others’ feelings or needs.
  • Submissive (or Passive): Avoiding the expression of feelings or opinions, allowing others to make decisions and prioritising their needs over one’s own.
  • Assertive: Clearly, directly, and respectfully expressing feelings and opinions, valuing both one’s own needs and the needs of others.
  • Manipulative: Trying to control others and situations indirectly, using tactics like guilt-tripping, playing the victim, or withholding information.

2. Identify Bad Communication Patterns

Communication patterns between individuals develop and become reinforced over time, much like a dance. Certain trigger words and behaviours can solidify these patterns, making them hard to break. Here’s how different communication styles can contribute to negative interaction patterns:

  • Criticism and Defensiveness: One partner criticises or blames, while the other becomes defensive, either counterattacking or shutting down.
  • An aggressive style may lead to harsh criticism and blame, while a passive-aggressive style might employ subtle jabs.
  • A submissive style might respond to criticism by shutting down or apologising excessively, whereas an aggressive style will likely counterattack.
  • An assertive response to criticism would involve calmly expressing how the criticism feels and requesting a more respectful dialogue.

Improving communication involves recognising these negative patterns and making a conscious effort to address them. Celebrate the communication aspects that work well in your relationship, and steadily work on the areas that need improvement. With time, effort, and practice, better communication can lead to a healthier, happier relationship.

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