“Best Practices” for Communication in Relationships

This is a guest post by Steve Rice of Karmic Kappuccino.

Image of CoupleI once heard it said that the quality of our lives depends on the quality of our relationships. This is true in professional and personal arenas.

It has also been said that relationships are hard. The truth is that most of us go through life fairly unconsciously. We know relationships are important to our quality of life, but when it comes to the important relationships in our lives, many of us “wing it.”

We rely on habits of communication that we have learned from our family and society. But where did these outside influences learn the behaviors which they have passed on to us? Generally from their family and social network.

This is the reason that people, families and even nations perpetuate dysfunctional, destructive and counter productive habit patterns.

Let’s focus on communication for this post. How can we interrupt this cycle of unconsciousness when it comes to our communication habits in our relationships?

1. Pay Attention

This may seem self-evident, but most don’t do it. Pay attention to the communication habits you have developed through life.

  • Where have they come from?
  • Identify your patterns.

When facing a challenging relationship situation, do you shut down or do you intensify the conflict by going on the offense? Awareness is the first step.

If you become aware of your behavior, you are empowered to recognize it when it happens. Recognition is the first step toward deciding to take a different action.

2. Educate Yourself

This is a difficult step, not because it’s technically difficult but because most people will not do it. Studies have shown that learning new communication techniques can greatly improve one’s chances at having a successful and fulfilling relationship.

Spend your energy and focus learning the pitfalls of communication in relationship. Learn new and better ways of interacting with others. You will benefit from learning new skills, but will also gain confidence when dealing with others because you will be able to understand what is going on with them.

Instead of taking things personally, you will recognize fear, insecurity and pain for what they are. Instead of engaging the drama and escalating it, you will be calm and will be able to resolve conflict more effectively.

3. Develop a “Common Language”

This is the most practical step. Once you have gained a basic education of communication patterns and human behavior it is vital to develop a “language” of communication within your relationships (personal or professional).

By “common language,” I mean a set of techniques that both parties in the relationship understand and abide by. The techniques of this “language” can be part of your education process, but it is absolutely necessary to learn to apply these techniques within the relationship.

It is important to use a technique that slows down the conversation in a manner that both parties within the relationship have a safe structure within which to be heard. When we are able to hear and be heard, it is amazing how many misconceptions and misunderstandings we find.

Only when we really hear each other, can we hope to resolve conflict.

Would love to hear your experiences thoughts and comments, but first, please share on Facebook and Twitter.



Steve Rice is the author of the new book, An Imperceptible Spark: Finding the Courage to Live a Life of Joy. He blogs at Karmic Kappuccino and is a trained relationship enhancement coach, as well as, a speaker and writer.

15 thoughts on ““Best Practices” for Communication in Relationships

  1. Steve,
    Great points here in regards to relationships. I agree that most of us model our relationships after other people who were not effective in relationships.

    That’s why it is so important to “unlearn” much of the negative programming in us.

    1. This is exactly the point I wanted to make, Justin. (Thanks for your comments here and on Blog Interact). We know this…that our habits were picked up from those around us, but most of us don’t take time to really evaluate our habits of communication and choose something better! 🙂

    1. You’re absolutely right. Being able to hear really hear what someone says is the essential part. Thanks for joining in the conversation here.

  2. This is such an interesting post. Loads of people come to me with problems that has it root to communication. Lack of it, manner of how it is done and many related issues. I would totally agree with everything you have mentioned here. Also, we need to understand that it isn’t a debate of right and wrong. Just because someone doesn’t feel what you do, doesn’t mean you have to “bite them”, just put your thoughts forward also mentioning that their views are just as important. Communication doesn’t mean battling it out!
    Loved the post. Have a great day!

    1. You are so right, Hajra. Many of us want to be right more then we want to communicate with someone else. We feel threatened if they don’t agree with us or if they don’t accept that we are right and they’re wrong. But true communication is about understanding not just establishing who is right and who is wrong. Thanks so much for your input it’s really valuable.

    1. Yes…I’m glad you picked up on that, Gustavo! That was my intention. I wanted to provide some general insights that would be applicable to everyone (since everyone’s in some relationship or another).

  3. Great stuff, Steve!! I have come to realize that I learned some very ineffective communication skills in my family growing up and I’ve had to really work on being more intentional in sharing. Many years of bad patterns are not easy to change but I’m thankful for what I have learned the past couple of years.

    1. it does take some intentional work to build better habits of communication, especially because those habits we have are built over decades. So glad that you continue to grow….it’s an inspiration, my friend!

  4. This is a great post Steve with great information! Paying attention during communication is so difficult for many, as peoples lives are so busy. There is definitely a difference between hearing and truly listening to what has been said.

    Thanks for sharing this post Steve and Evie. I too have been blogging about communication every day this week.

    1. Thanks, Rhonda! Really appreciate you stopping by to provide your perspective. You are right…honestly, when working with couples, I have them “mirror” or repeat back what their partner/spouse has said to them. It’s amazing how many can’t pay attention, even when that’s the only thing they need to do.

      We get distracted by all the stuff around us and even the things that are going on inside us! No wonder we don’t truly hear one another!

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