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Rules for Effective Communication

Part of the Improving Your Relationship For Dummies Cheat Sheet

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.

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