After listening really well, the next step in good communication is to understand and convey that understanding to your partner. You will need to speak clearly, gently and reasonably--in a way that he or she can really hear you.
Three Beliefs That Get in the Way of Communicating Clearly:
- "But I want to be honest!" Honesty should not be confused with brutal honesty. Brutal honesty is when you tell the other person exactly what you think and feel, without editing, without being reasonable, without consideration for how this kind of communication might be effecting the other person. Brutal honesty is hurtful and destructive. Gentle, considered honesty enhances and strengthens relationships.
- "But I need to get my anger out!" This is an outdated belief, based in the pop psychology of the 1970's. Many people use this as an excuse to blast the other person in a self righteous, even abusive way. A more productive approach is to work internally with your anger first. Come to a reasonable understanding of your needs and feelings. Then communicate this without blame, gently, reasonably. Use your anger in this way to build a bridge of understanding.
- "But I'm right!" This is how we all feel when we're in conflict with another person. When there are problems communicating, "But I'm right!" suddenly becomes the main reason for arguing at all. However, this only increases conflict. There's an old saying: "You can be right, OR you can be married!" ("OR be in a friendship, OR get along with your colleagues, or...). Surrender to the fact that your own view is limited at best. There are other, equally valid, perspectives. Put yourself in your partner's shoes, and experience what it's like to be "right" from his or her perspective.