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10 Tips for Relationship Communication

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Ten tools and techniques that can support positive, harmonious, and compassionate relationships.

1. Connection before Correction If you find yourself in a position where you want discuss an issue with someone, begin by taking time to connect with them. What is important to them at this moment? What is their need or value instead of “Why did you do that?”, consider “I can imagine you needed to be heard how strongly you feel about that situation.” It will be much easier to understand their motivation before sharing what you are wanting from them.

2. Just the Facts When talking about challenging behavior, you can keep it neutral by using observational language free from evaluation or interpretation. Instead of saying “you were being disrespectful”, say “you were talking in a raised voice on your cell phone.” People can much more easily hear what they said or did rather than your interpretation of their words or actions.

3. There are no Difficult People...just people you are having difficulty with. Labeling someone as “difficult” or “a problem” makes them a problem. Instead, realize their behavior may be challenging for you. This challenge is an opportunity for self-reflection, growth, and skill-building.

4. It’s NOT Personal What others say and do is a reflection of their perspective, needs and values. When we take other people’s words personally, it’s easy to get defensive, reactive, and want to protect ourselves.

5. Be a PRO, not a JEDI When stimulated, our habitual response is often to Justify, Explain, Defend, or Inform. A more powerful response is to be a PRO.
• PAUSE. Take a deep slow breath. Exhale fully, slowly, calmly.
• RELAX. What’s happening in your body? Release any tension or tightness.
• OPEN. Release your judgment by empathizing with yourself the need motivating the other person.

6. Reflect, Reflect, Reflect When you are unsure of what to say or do, reflective listening is a great tool. “Let me see if I understood what you said....” or “I want to make sure I got you. I heard you say.... is that accurate?” (and remember to refrain from interpreting or evaluating what you heard the person say).

7. There is Only One Person you can Change Wanting the other person to change and be different can be a set up for more conflict. Instead, why not take self-responsibility and ask yourself ‘how can I see/do this differently?”

8. Self Care is the Highest Form of Service Be sure you have your oxygen mask on before giving air to others. If you are stressed or overwhelmed, it will affect those around you. Take time for self-care and stay connected to your own feelings and needs. Take on only as much as you can handle. Know when to ask for help. Ask yourself “who, what are my resources here?”

9. Gratitude When people feel they are acknowledged, relationships improve and there is more cooperation and harmony. It’s worth investing your time to acknowledge and appreciate others. Bring attention to things going well. Make gratitude a habit.

10. Kindness and Generosity According to Psychologist John Gottman, these two traits are the biggest indicator of healthy relationships. When we can stop being defensive and allow ourselves to be in the spirit of kindness and generosity, relationships can dramatically improve.

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