Perspective: The First Step to Effective Communication
Real communication is a staple of any successful relationship. This means more than a quick conversation over dinner, or half-listening to the TV while your spouse is talking. Real communication occurs when both parties are invested and interested in the conversation. Communication is a dialogue, not a monologue.
Too often, a conversation becomes one-sided – the cliché is, of course, a wife yakking away at her barely interested, barely paying attention husband. Despite the cliché, though, this situation can manifest itself in a variety of ways, with either side of a couple taking the roles of “over-talker” and “under-listener.”
By defining the two roles as such, we are able to do something very important: recognize that BOTH parties are hindering the communication process.
Effective communication is reliant on perspective, and shifting yours to see through the eyes of your partner. Whether you are the speaker or the listener at any given point in a conversation, it is useful (and considerate) to take the other person into account. It is truly a two-way street. No one wants to be bombarded by a tirade about the workday, with little to no room to respond or comment. These stresses are good to talk about, but don’t use your spouse as a verbal punching bag. You can vent, but talk about it with your partner, don’t just talk at them.
Likewise, make yourself an engaged listener as well. You expect others to listen when you speak, after all – why not return the courtesy? Think from your partner’s perspective. They are making an attempt at sharing part of their life with you; they are making conversation to involve you.
By taking the other party’s perspective into account, we improve every aspect of our communication with one another. If you had a rough day, ask about your partner’s day before launching into complaints; understand that every individual has their own unique experiences, and that to effectively communicate, we need to share those experiences with each other, not just force our own onto others.
No one expects you to truly understand everything from your spouse’s perspective. Our own emotions and assumptions prevent us from escaping ourselves entirely, but just making the effort will point you in the right direction. When you have the time to sit down and converse with your spouse, remember that your wife has had a backache or that your husband had to deal with a difficult meeting.
We all have our own stressors, and it’s easy to get wrapped up in them, ignoring the difficulties facing the people closest to us. Make an effort to empathize with your spouse, and take their perspective into account. If both members of a couple do this, the relationship is on the fast track to better, more fulfilling communication.
About the Author: Dr. Dana Fillmore is the co-founder and Expert Clinical Psychologist at www.StrongMarriageNow.com. She is also the co-author of Happily Ever After: How to Be Happily Married to the One You Already Married. The goal of StrongMarriageNow.com is to enrich and inspire one million couples and families to have strong, happy healthy lives together. Visit the site today and check out their most popular program, StrongMarriageNow.com