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Home > Medical Services > Employee Assistance Program (EAP) > Employee Resources & Support > EAP Educational Articles > How to Effectively Communicate with a Significant Other
No one has a perfect relationship. All couples struggle, and all relationships have challenges. Communication is key to solving and overcoming these obstacles that arise in relationships. Without healthy communication, a strain can build between you and your significant other, so here are some tips on how to effectively communicate with your significant other.
First, practice active listening. Active listening is the ability to focus entirely on a speaker, understand their message, comprehend the information, and respond thoughtfully. Try your best to listen to your significant other without getting distracted by your own thoughts or other things. Do not interrupt your significant other while they are speaking, nor should you try to solve a problem they do not ask you to solve.
Second, provide feedback. Restate what you hear your significant other say to demonstrate that you are listening. Then, clarify that you understand correctly: “It sounds like you feel ___ because ____. Am I understanding you correctly?” Use feedback as an opportunity to clear up any confusion. Avoid assuming you know what your significant other is thinking if they have not explicitly stated the thought. This is called mind-reading. Mind-reading is a skill none of us possess, so do not try to use it with your significant other.
Third, use “I” statements when it is your turn to talk. With a soft and even tone, start each statement with “I”: I feel, I need, or I want. Then, follow your “I” with an emotion and an explanation why. In this explanation, gently describe what is bothering you, or how your significant other’s actions affect you. For example:
“I feel ____ when ______ because ____.”
“I feel hurt when you go so long without calling, because it makes me feel like you don’t care.”
Along with these three key actions of active listening, providing feedback, and using “I” statements, here are some other things to keep in mind when communicating with your significant other.
If escalation occurs, mutually agree with your significant other to take a break and revisit the conversation when you and your significant other are feeling less emotionally-charged.
If you need more help with how to develop effectively communication skills, contact Mercy's EAP at (319) 398-6694.