Effective Communication Strategies for Couples: Resolving Conflicts with Empathy and Understanding

Effective Communication Tips for Couples to Resolve Conflicts with Empathy

What is Communication? Why is it important in a relationship?

The transmission of information from one location to another is the definition of communication. While everyone can communicate, can we all communicate effectively?

When we communicate effectively, both the sender and receiver feel satisfied.

Communication in relationships enables you to express to the other person your feelings and requirements. Effectively communicating not only enables you to get what you need but also strengthens the bond between you and your partner.

Couples can take a variety of actions to enhance communication . Learning about and developing an awareness of the various communication styles is the first step. Communication can be done in four different ways: assertively, passively, passively aggressively, and aggressively.

Passive communicators frequently refrain from expressing their demands, thoughts, and feelings. They lack self-confidence and establish weak boundaries in their interactions. People using this communication style frequently hold things inside until they 'explode' as a result of tension building up. The passive communicator could then feel bad or repent and go back to their old passive behaviour of keeping things to themselves.

A person with an aggressive communication style is more likely to speak louder, interrupt frequently, criticise, blame, and degrade their partner as well as to dominate or control them. Such a person prioritises their wants over those of their partners when communicating.

People who communicate in a passive-aggressive manner make an effort to subtly alert their spouse to their requirements. Although they may seem passive, their priorities are actually their own needs. They frequently experience feelings of helplessness and resentment and express their anger in subdued ways, such as by rolling their eyes, muttering to themselves, employing sarcasm, or downplaying the severity of the situation.

People with an assertive communication style can articulately argue for and identify their wants and feelings without demeaning their partner's needs and feelings, and they appreciate both their own needs and their partner's needs. They have good self-control, use a calm and clear voice, listen well without interrupting their partner, and respect others' limits while making sure others respect their own. People who communicate assertively feel better about their sense of control over their lives and are more connected to others.

Relationships we have, our attachment type, how those around us communicate, whether or not they have experienced abuse or trauma , their culture, and many other things affect the communication style we choose to utilise. It's quite common and not always a terrible thing to have a partner who communicates differently from you. Some communication style combinations, such as when one spouse uses a passive style while the other uses an aggressive style, can be particularly problematic. For instance, the demands of the passive partner will seldom be addressed if both partners use unhealthy communication methods . The needs of both parties must be understood, voiced, appreciated, and addressed in order for a relationship to be considered healthy.

Just as two individuals have different styles of communicating, it is impossible for two people to view all things from the exact same perspective. When individuals differ in their way of perceiving things, a conflict-like situation arises.

Conflict is defined as a clash between individuals arising out of a difference in thought processes, attitudes, understanding, interests, requirements, and even sometimes perceptions.

Conflict is common, but if it goes unresolved and causes more stress, it can weaken the relationships that individuals develop. If we understand that all partners may occasionally disagree, we also need to acknowledge that it's critical to find a solution to keep the relationship healthy.

To understand conflict resolution techniques for couples, let us understand the types of disagreements that can occur in a relationship

According to clinical psychologist Russell Grieger (2015), there are four probable consequences of disagreements:

  1. The first person benefits from the outcome, but not the second.
  2. This is a lose-lose circumstance. One person succeeds in getting what they desire, while the other is left outcast and may experience hurt, rage, and resentment. These emotions could cause more arguments or come up in other areas of the relationship.

  3. The second individual gains from the outcome, but not the first.
  4. Similar to the first scenario, this one results in the first party in the relationship feeling frustrated or slighted (a lose-win situation).

  5. Both parties suffer from the result.
  6. The third alternative is undesirable since it results in a lose-lose situation for both parties. Usually the result of obstinacy on both sides when neither wants the other to 'win,' therefore neither will yield. Once more, this hurts the relationship and, if it continues or is done repeatedly, becomes poisonous.

  7. There is a solution that is suitable for both parties.
  8. The pair of partners cooperate to find a solution that benefits all parties equally and produces a win-win result. Both parties gain more confidence and trust in the relationship because nobody feels hurt or defeated.

    The fourth choice is unquestionably the best for a stable, long-term relationship and prevents the possibility of a negative spiral (Grieger, 2015). A win-win solution to a conflict results in progress and forward motion .

Couples dealing with difficult disagreements might follow Grieger's (2015) four-step technique to resolve adamant differences.

Step 1: Get rid of any relationship disruptions.

First and first, it's critical to get rid of or at least lessen feelings like hurt, anger, and resentment that may obstruct conflict resolution.

Otherwise, neither side is likely to listen to the other's arguments attentively and honestly.

Step 2: Decide to adopt a win-win attitude.

Each party must pledge to seek a resolution that benefits both equally. It is unacceptable to have one side triumph while the other fails. The couple has to maintain their drive and be adaptable.

Step 3: Develop deliberate listening skills

When both parties are actively listening to one another, a win-win solution is more likely. Each person is aware of what a victory looks like for themselves, but now they must actively listen to one another without judging or censoring them.

A win-win solution is feasible whenever both parties have a common understanding.

Step 4: Use synergistic brainstorming techniques.

Having cleared any emotional baggage, embraced a win-win perspective, and been completely committed to a win for both, the couple may go forward with finding a suitable solution.

The couple can discuss their issues, needs, goals, and ideas until they come up with a solution that pleases them both.

Here are some effective communication tips for couples while we are resolving conflicts in relationships

Rule #1: Steer clear of words like 'always' and 'never'

Couples should avoid using any of the following words to begin a sentence:

“You would never do this.”

“You say that all the time.”

Rule #2: In your relationship, be assertive about what you want.

In each relationship, you should ask for what you want. Symbiosis is the term used in therapy to describe the belief that your partner thinks and feels just like you do and should 'just know.'

Rule#3: Wait to respond until the other person has finished speaking.

This will help people not divert from the topic and will also represent empathetic listening, which is a very important aspect of effective communication.

Rule#4: When Speaking with Your Partner, Validate

As soon as your conversation partner is finished speaking, you confirm what they just said, but from their perspective rather than your own. You're not in agreement with your partner, to be clear. Simply put, you are endorsing your partner's viewpoint. Your partner's eyes—not your own—are what you're seeing at that precise time. You are endorsing your partner's point of view on the world.

Rule #5: Show empathy when speaking to your partner.

Considering what they are saying, try to imagine how your partner might be feeling. Again, you must suppress your emotions, set them aside, and try to see things from their perspective. How does your spouse feel?

The partners then switch roles while continuing to discuss the same subject in order to avoid piling up problems once the Sender is done and the Receiver has completed reflecting back, validating, and empathizing. As a result, there is room in the partnership for both partners' realities to coexist.

Lastly, do not hesitate to seek professional help to prioritize your mental health care. Help is available. You can reach out for individual therapy or couple therapy and get a hold of your relationships.

We can assist you in improving relationship dynamics through communication or resolving conflicts in your relationship. Reach out to Mpower and connect with the best mental health counselors in India.

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