Getting Relationship Ready: 10 Communication commandments
Posted by John Aiken, RSVP dating and relationship expert onYou may've seen the first episode of the new ABC show Making Couples Happy last night, where I take four distressed couples through an 8-week boot camp to get them happier. While it's on air for the next four weeks, I thought we would translate some of the lessons from the program into practical tools that are useful for singles as they get themselves 'relationship ready'.
First up - let's talk about communication skills and the problems that occur when people attack each other and don't listen. One of the key areas you need to think about when getting relationship ready is - how good is my communication and what skills do I need to work on so I can have a better relationship with my next partner.
Communication is without doubt the most important skill you're going to need to master if you want a healthy long-term relationship. Because if you can communicate well - then you're going to be able to bring up any issues as they arise, problem solve as a team and manage conflict. You're going to understand each other and feel connected.
However, if you get this wrong, then you're in for a difficult time. Your relationship will be characterised by arguments, yelling, personal attacks, defensiveness and sulking.
Rather than letting this happen, here are ten communication do's and don'ts (based on the work by psychologist John Gottman) that will help you get ready for your next relationship and improve your communication skills:
1. Interrupt and talk over each other
2. Use phrases like "you always" or "you never"...
3. Blame your new partner and bring up past mistakes
4. Dish out advice when your new partner is discussing a problem
5. Start a conversation with an angry tone
6. Attack their personality traits (e.g. you're being lazy, selfish, arrogant etc.)
7. Keep your feelings inside
8. Get distracted and lose eye contact (e.g. focus on your mobile phone, computer, TV)
9. Tell your partner what you don't want them to do (e.g. don't run late next time around)
10. Argue loudly until you get overwhelmed and walk out
1. Allow your partner to finish talking
2. Use phrases like "you sometimes" or "you often..."
3. Take responsibility and use "I" statements (e.g. I find this difficult...)
4. Listen to your new partner's problems and don't fix or offer advice - just empathise and side with them
5. Start with a gentle tone when bringing up an issue 'Honey, how would you feel about..."
6. Focus on problem behaviours not personality flaws
7. Express your feelings "Darling I feel..."
8. Give eye contact and stay focused when listening (e.g ignore your mobile phone when talking)
9. Tell your date what you do want in the future (e.g. please pick me up 10 minutes early in the future)
10. Take time out when arguing and have 30 minutes break before coming back to the issue
John Aiken, RSVP dating and relationship expert, currently seen on ABC's new series Making Couples Happy, and author of the new book Making Couples Happy: How science can help get relationships back on track (www.johnaiken.com.au)
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