February 27, 2017

It’s Not What You Say, It’s How You Say It: 5 Communication Habits You Should Drop

Written by Rachel Eddins

Woman communicating with other woman

Good communication habits are vital in many situations.

Imagine: How disastrous could it be if astronauts in space wouldn’t communicate clearly with the NASA control center in Houston about a problem they’re encountering? What consequences might a patient suffer if the doctor wouldn’t explain the use of a certain medication correctly? Or how frustrated and confused would a student be when a teacher doesn’t explain a subject well?

The fact is, to successfully communicate, a message not only has to be transmitted clearly but must also be received and understood by the other party.

How much attention do you give to this fact in your marriage? Do you have good communication habits when talking to your spouse? As the saying goes, often “it’s not what you say, it’s how you say it” that makes the difference.

5 Bad Communication Habits You Should Stop

In the interest of transmitting your message clearly to your spouse and having them understand it, seriously consider abandoning the following communication habits.

1. Negativity

One of the first things you teach your children about interactions with others is politeness – like saying “please” and “thank you.” But how often do you forgo using these simple expressions of appreciation and instead just spit out a command to your spouse? Or how many times do you resort to raising your voice or yelling to make your point? While you may have a valid reason to be upset, your emotions become the sole focus of attention in a heated exchange. Nothing positive and supportive gets communicated.

2. Attitude of Superiority

Exaggerations, unfounded allegations, belittling your partner’s feelings, and not taking responsibility for your part in the issue are ways to maintain some sort of superiority. Yet, every disagreement in a marriage has two sides. Have you noticed a tendency to phrase every problem in terms of what your mate should be doing? Or do you use a lot of “you always” or “you never” expressions? Being judgmental, condescending, and prideful is non-conducive to good communication.

3. Inconsistency

When your spoken words are not in harmony with your body language, your spouse gets the message that you don’t mean what you’re saying. Do you make a show of affection but then have a tendency to resort to empty threats when things don’t go your way? Or how often do you focus more on what you’re planning to say next than actively listen to what your mate is really saying? Instead of loving, kind, and interested, you come across as dismissive, judgmental, and defensive.

What is your relationship attachment style? Take this quiz and find out.

4. Lack of Sincerity

When issues need to be resolved, yielding and accepting things against your will just to keep the peace is counterproductive. Avoiding the conflict can lead to a lot of anger and resentment down the road. How often have you said “yes” when you meant “no” simply to avoid being dismissed, judged, or rejected? Or how often do you say “nothing” when asked what’s wrong, maybe testing how well your partner knows you? Good communication has nothing to do with mind reading, it requires sincerity, bravery, forthrightness, and trust.

5. Impatience

Taking turns speaking and listening is not an easy thing for many people. How often do you find you interrupt your partner and don’t finish listening to what they’re saying? Do you pause when you speak and give them enough time to think about a reply? Or do you keep asking question after question without taking a breath? Being impatient hinders the transmission and reception of your message – any understanding is lost.

Drop your bad communication habits and put forth every effort to be positive, humble, consistent, sincere, and patient when speaking with your spouse. And if you need more personalized help, be willing to seek it through couples counseling. 

Our therapists in Houston are available for face to face sessions as online therapy sessions in limited areas. To get started now give us a call to schedule an appointment at 832-559-2622 or schedule an appointment online.

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