Communication Skills for Couples

Communication Skills for Couples

Communication Skills for Couples

By Susie Carr - LifeWorks Trainer

Communication Skills for Couples

Communication Skills

While the issues that couples seek help and counselling for are varied and complex, one thing they all have in common is not being able to communicate about them.

The basic skill of listening is not as easy as it seems. We hear with our ears but we need to listen with full attention in order to understand any problem or relationship issues from each other's point of view.

A major deficit which couple's talk about in their relationships is the inability to really listen to each other. This is because when couples are talking about difficult issues, they cannot maintain their anxiety levels during the conversations. Couples will find it hard to remain calm and rational when their partner isn't or if the topic of discussion is one in which there are no easy solutions or are linked to old issues or unfinished business.

Couples encounter stumbling blocks during conversations, which lead to arguments for the following reasons,

  • Couples criticise their partner
  • Become defensive
  • Blame their partner
  • Argue
  • Become angry
  • Provide advice, solutions, directions
  • These are just some of the ways couples disrupt the listening process.

    Communication Skills for Couples

    At Life Works we offer a communication skills course to help people address these disruptive habits and develop more productive skills to aid in the development of empathic (compassionate) listening skills.

    The course helps people understand more about their own listening styles and the habits they have developed over time. It also teaches micro skills which are the high order communication skills commonly used by counselors. Micro skills break down conversations into recognizable parts and which keep the conversation flowing. In addition to micro skills the skills associated with in depth listening are added to the mix.

    Validation.

    Having the ability to validate another person's point of view even if you don't agree with it is vital to staying connected in conversation. If someone can't validate what their partner is saying at that point their conversation becomes an argument. Validating your partner's point of view is simply that, you are validating their point of view and how they came to form it at that point in their thinking. You certainly don't have to agree but saying something that shows you are listening without judging keeps the conversation from deteriorating into conflict.

    A simple statement of acknowledgement like this is an example,

    "I don't necessarily agree with you but I can see how you are thinking"

    When you can offer simple acknowledgement of what someone else is saying without letting your own thoughts, opinions or feelings get in the way it can make the difference to what happens next. When someone feels their point of view is validated they are less likely to feel what they are saying is being dismissed or judged. Most importantly they'll feel they're really being 'heard' by their partner.

    The most crucial aspect of compassionate communication rests on the ability of the listener to empathies with what the person who is speaking is actually feeling. The skill to learn here is to accurately feed back what the person is feeling empathically.

    It may sound like this,

    "Sounds like you're feeling really upset by what I said to you"

    or,

    "I imagine you are feeling pretty angry now"

    Communication Skills for Couples

    Neither of those statements is judgmental and helps maintain the connection in the conversation. The person who is speaking has already had his or her point of view validated which makes the empathic response the icing on the cake of good communication between couples.

    Compassionate communication skills are not easy to master but they are very useful ones to have in your repertoire of communication skills so well worth the effort to learn. Like all new skills they become easier with practice. These specific skills once learned can be used in a variety of situations where communication skills matter. They can be used to enhance communication and connection in couple relationships, with family and friends as well as in any professional situation.

    Life Works offers communication skills training through its Compassionate Communication Workshop facilitated by Susie Carr. Susie is an experienced trainer and personal development consultant at Life Works with expertise in the area of communication skills. Please see Susie's profile for further information about her.

    Susie looks forward to meeting you at the next Compassionate Communication workshop at Life Works Dubai.



    See other articles by Susie Carr

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