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  • It’s time to accept that effective communication is vital to our relationships and to take significant steps toward opening up.
  • To start breaking down those walls, decide to approach the conversation with positive vibes, as positivity encourages comfortable communication, which then increases trust.
  • Another valuable strategy is to choose an appropriate time and place for the conversation you want to have.
  • Additionally, make it a point to listen, acknowledge, and use your own words wisely.
  • Remember, too: you shouldn’t just talk about problems. You should be talking all the time! Talk about everything you’re doing right, including any progress you’ve made.
  • Finally, if you need a little outside help, try conversation starter cards—these will help you practice communicating and feel more comfortable with each other.

It isn’t always easy to open up. In fact, for some people (like myself) it’s never easy to open up. Even when it comes to talking to the people that know us best. But the reality is that effective communication is an essential piece to the puzzle of any relationship. The good news is that you can take action to wiggle yourself out of that discomfort and learn to open up. According to Angel Hoodye, a licensed professional counselor supervisor and the owner of Flourishing Hope Counseling, a good first step is to just channel positive vibes. She points out that when you feel good, (1) your hearts and minds are more open to discussing what is going on, (2) having a positive conversation helps to encourage more communication, and (3) comfortable communication increases trust.

Once you’ve decided to bring some positivity into the whole ordeal, follow Hoodye’s additional tips for opening up and having a successful conversation with your partner:

1) Pick your place and time.

Timing is everything. Be in the right place at the right time to communicate with your partner. Talking about the last thing your mother-in law did right before the movie starts is not a great idea. Choose a time when you both are available to discuss clearly and openly your concerns.

2) Listen and acknowledge.

Part of healthy communication is listening. You must listen to what your partner is saying rather than preparing your response back while they are talking. When you listen to what is being said, you gain insight into your partner’s viewpoint. After you have heard what has been shared, acknowledge what you have heard. It helps to increase that warm feeling of understanding and support. When your partner recognizes you understand them, you can move forward in a positive way. Acknowledging your partner’s feelings, thoughts, and actions, show that you are present in the conversation. Being understood is very helpful in fostering productive communication.

3) Use your words wisely.

Be intentional in your conversation in a positive way. Use words like “we” and “us” when building a team/couple approach. Use statements like “I want,” “I feel,” or “I need” when trying to convey a message for change. Be very careful with the word “you.” This sometimes increases a feeling of defensiveness from the other person in the conversation. Words like “you” don’t feel so good on the receiving in for most people. Also be careful when saying words like “always” and “never.” Of course, these words have a place. “I will always love you” is a lot different than “you always judge me.”

4) Don’t just talk about problems.

Discuss what is going well. Positive communication can increase the opportunity for more positive communication. If you have more positive interactions when discussing concerns it increases the likelihood for more positive communication. You don’t have to sit down and talk about everything going wrong. When things are going well, it helps to talk still. An initial question like, “What can we do to keep this going?” or, “What do you like most about how we have improved?” can be super helpful.

5) Try conversation starter cards.

For some couples, it takes time to get more comfortable talking with each other. Often, people get so busy taking on all the tasks/responsibilities for keeping life moving that they forget to talk to each other. Try conversation cards to stack up points in the communication area. This helps you to practice communication with each other.

It’s true that resolving relationship issues sometimes requires a little additional help. If this is the case for you and your partner, consider working with a couples counselor at Thriveworks. Our providers are experts in their field and they truly care about your health and progress in life. Schedule an appointment today by first finding a location near you, or book an online counseling session.

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