Communication is a cornerstone to any healthy relationship. Without this strong foundation it is difficult to understand needs and expectations, or navigate challenges with effective resolutions.
Why is Healthy Communication Important?
Research has shown that healthy communication leads to:
• Less stress and increased relationship satisfaction
• Psychological and Physical well-being for partners, parents, and children
• Increased connection and intimacy
• Close family relationships
• Less risk-taking behaviors for children
• Healthy development and self-esteem in children
What is Healthy Communication?
- When a person can identify their needs and preferences, while supporting the same disclosure from others.
- When a person can encouraging a safe environment where problems, challenges, and needed clarification can be discussed and negotiated in a supportive manner.
- Healthy communication includes listening to one another to improve understanding and fostering an open expression of ideas and opinions without judgement or criticism.
Common Problem Areas for Partner to Partner Communication
Couples often face these specific struggles when it comes to communicating to one another:
• Irrational expectations of each other
• Misunderstandings and Perception Errors
• Power struggles and hostility
• Dismissive responses to verbalized needs and feelings
• Passive Aggressive responses
Techniques and Strategies
- Enrich the Relationship – Couples can engage in daily communication about positive aspects of their relationship, ordinary daily experiences, and goals and dreams to build connection and expectations.
- Self-Assertiveness – Couples can avoid passive aggressive responses by directly addressing concerns or needs openly and honestly. Partners need to encourage assertive communication by refraining from defensive attitudes and responses.
- Active Listening – Couples should provide their full attention during communication, refraining from interruption, but reflecting back one’s understanding and asking for clarification.
- Validation – Couples should accept their partner’s needs, thoughts, and feelings.
- Clear messages – Couples can improve misunderstandings by sending clear, easily understood messages that are specific and focus on the present issue.
- Avoid Harsh Responses – Couples should avoid harsh responses such as criticism and sarcasm.
- Take a Time-out – When the conversation gets too heated, it is okay to call a time-out and set a 20 minute timer to walk away, cool off, and comeback to continue the conversation with a calmer attitude.
Common Problem Areas for Parent to Child Communication
For parents, there is often a difficult balance between effectively communicating versus dictating to their child. Parents and children identify the following challenges in communicating with one another:
• Parents lack of openness in communication
• Child’s unwillingness to disclose openly
• Negative parental reaction to disclosure
• Children not being heard or feeling dismissed
• Parental over-control and not recognizing the need for growing autonomy and independence
Techniques and Strategies
Engage in Mindful Parenting communication strategies:
- Present-centered Awareness – Parents should listen with full intention and attention.
- Self-Regulation – Parents can avoid a negative or emotionally-charged reaction or response by pausing and reflecting on their child’s disclosure before responding.
- Emotional Awareness – Parents should be aware of their own emotional fluctuations and their child’s during the interaction, and uses that opportunity to check-in and make adjustments as necessary
- Non-judgmental Acceptance – Parents can provide an open and non-judgmental environment that allows their child to be authentic to their traits, behaviors, beliefs, and opinions.
- Compassion – Parents should demonstrate genuine concern for their child and the challenges they face.
How can you use these tools and techniques to enhance your communication with your partner and/or child today?
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