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The Counseling Corner - by The American Counseling Association

Good relationships require good communications

Good communications are essential to good relationships, but arent always easy to achieve. We live busy, often stressful lives, and taking the time to make sure were really communicating effectively with our partner is something that requires focus and effort.
Reachers have found that one communication difficulty is that men and women actually do communicate differently. Compared to women, men tend to talk less, are reluctant to discuss feelings, are quicker to seek solutions, interrupt more often, and are quicker to withdraw when confronted by their partner.
To help get past such issues, its important to practice good communication skills, hopefully long before a major life issue is the topic of discussion. Some techniques that can help include:
Making eye contact.
Using I statements, rather than you accusations.
Avoiding words like always and never.
Expressing yourself in small chunks, rather than talking fast and trying to get it all in at once.
Taking turns. Letting your partner express an opinion without interrupting or finishing his or her thoughts.
Avoiding criticism and sarcasm.
Avoiding name calling.
Being aware that body language and voice tone, not just words, make up communication. A mocking tone, rolling eyes, hands on hips or crossed arms are all negative communications that can cause your partner to withdraw and become defensive.
Being a good listener. We commonly assume we know what the other person is going to say, and often start forming our reply before theyre done, rather than taking the time to really listen to what was actually said.
Instead, practice good listening skills. Maintain eye contact and listen carefully. When a point has been made, repeat whats been said to be sure it was correctly understood. Validate important points (It sounds as if that really hurt you.), so the other person knows you heard and understood, even though you might not agree.
Communicating well in a relationship takes practice and work, but it can pay off when a major discussion has to take place. Start practicing with simple issues to express yourself honestly, clearly and cooly, and to learn to listen to the other side as well. Poor communication within a relationship is one of the major reasons for couples consulting with a counseling professional.

The Counseling Corner is provided as a public service by the American Counseling Association, the nations largest organization of counseling professionals. Learn more about the counseling profession at the ACA web site, www.counseling.org.

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