Communicating effectively is the keystone to any relationship. Use the tips in this list to make sure your message gets across – and to help you listen to what you’re being told.

  • Be clear on the objective of the conversation: Before you open your mouth, make sure that you know why you’re doing so. No communication is effective unless you know what you’re hoping to achieve by it.

  • Choose your timing: Make sure that you’re both as relaxed as possible, have plenty of time and can’t be interrupted.

  • Stick to the matter in hand: Don’t try to get everything of your chest at once. Keep focused on the issue you need to deal with.

  • Avoid starting sentences with ‘You . . . ’: Don’t start out with an accusation – or by sounding as though you’re making one.

  • Never say never or always: Categorical statements are provocative and unlikely to be true. Cut them out.

  • Watch your shoulds and shouldn’ts: Unless you honestly believe that you have the right to take the moral high ground and preach to your partner, don’t do it

  • Don’t interrupt: Even if you’re 100 per cent sure that your partner’s got nothing else worth saying, keep shtum and let him finish. If you want your partner to become a better talker, then first you must become a better listener.

  • Stay calm or postpone the conversation: When people get angry, reason tends to disappear. Relax or take a time out.

  • Avoid sarcasm, monologues or mind reading: Don’t try to manipulate the situation to your advantage. If you speak to your partner or act in a way that you’d never dream of doing with your boss, then ask yourself why.

  • Express your feelings as well as your opinions: Saying that you feel unvalued when he’s late explains not just what the problem is, but the effect that the problem is having on you.