Increasing Communication

Written by Janet Greenwood

Q:    I would love to hear some suggestions on how to get my husband to communicate more.

A:    You are on the right track in recognizing the need for open communication in your relationship.  What I mean by open communication is honest, authentic expressions of thoughts and feelings that create understanding between the two of you.

       An important part of communication is recognizing that it starts with you, not with your husband.  (The same is true for him.)  It is common to point a finger at the other person and say that they should change.

      “Your messages” are safe in that no self discloser takes place, but they are not effective in generating constructive communication that is relationship building. One key to effective communication is starting sentences with “I feel,” “I want,” “I need,” “I perceive,” etc. “I messages” will shift the mood from blame and accusation that “you messages” create.

       One recommendation I have is notice the next time you and your husband are stuck in silence, disagreements, or miscommunication and say to yourself – “What can I do to enhance or influence communication that is relationship building?”

       If your intention is to build the relationship rather than to attack or humiliate, that nonverbal message will come through.  I call it the music behind the words.

      Even if your selection of words is not absolutely perfect you can:

1.   Each keep to “I messages;”

2.   Look at what you can do to influence intimacy (not the other person);

3.   Make sure your intention is to create a safe environment for intimate communication.

      Remember, people communicate (or don’t communicate) the way they do for good reason. Somewhere it was learned as a way to survive.  Change takes time as well as learning a set of skills that will make communication safe and worthwhile.