Communication skills: discovering the three characteristics of an efficient communicator.
Communication skills: the three characteristics of an efficient communicator
In consultations, as therapists we usually find that the happiest and most satisfied people have three specific relationship skills. Don’t be discouraged if you or your partner are not very good at these communication skills that we are about to discuss. We are rarely born with the gift of communication, rather they are skills that need to be learned and practiced.
Empathy refers to being able to put yourself in someone else’s shoes and understand their experience and point of view, so that the interlocutor can gain an appreciation for how they feel. Of course, you also have to be able to convey your ideas to that person accurately so that the other person can access that same understanding of your situation.
Most couples have difficulty with empathy for a simple reason: they think they already know what the other is feeling or thinking simply because they have been in a relationship for several years. Countless studies show the imperfection of this assumption: we are bad predictors of what the other thinks, including our partners. Our assumptions are almost always biased or wrong.
Empathy requires a mental trick: close your eyes and literally imagine being the other person. Put yourself in your perspective, your reality, your priorities, your expectations, your prejudices and your concerns. Only then should you bring the current pressing situation onto the scene and then imagine how the other person perceives the situation and how you would feel in that position.
Empathy is a crucial skill in communication and human relationships, and it also relates to the following essential skill.
2. Emotional validation
When your partner is angry or upset with you, the last thing you want to do is add to that discomfort by telling them that they have every right to feel that way. But when you convey what happens from an attitude of sympathy and understanding, everything changes. Rather than inciting sadness or anger, your message of emotional validation can actually de-stress the conflict.
Why does this paradox occur?
Emotional validation is something we all seek and crave, usually much more than we think. When we are upset, angry, frustrated, disappointed or hurt, what we want most is for our partner to understand why we feel this way.
We want them to validate our feelings, conveying their opinions to us with a generous helping of sympathy. When that happens, the relief and catharsis we experience are enormous. We can then achieve a true release of lower instincts and begin to express some of the feelings we have accumulated, releasing tensions and returning to expressing affection.
Emotional validation and empathy are hugely important relationship skills. These are complemented by the third skill on our list.
Couples consistently underestimate the impact small thoughtful gestures have on the dynamics of their relationship. A nice gesture or sign of affection can almost instantly stop a tense and negative dynamic and return the relationship to a good channel for positive and affective communication.
Obviously, giving a bouquet of flowers or giving a hug cannot reverse the depth of a wound. But when things get tense, courtesy, goodwill, and affection are very powerful weapons in the face of tension, impatience, and negativity.
These three relationship skills go hand in hand. Together they form a foundation of caring, trust, and connection to which couples can more easily return when they are in times of stress, tension, or emotional distance. It is up to each one to make an effort to practice them, improve on them and integrate them into their daily thinking and communication. Communication skills can also be learned: cheer up, they will be of great help to you.