Communication is one of those things that can either make or break a relationship. Whether you are dating, married, or just have really close friends, we all need to make sure that we are not shying away from healthy communication habits.
At the core, we all know that good communication is all about seeking to understand, being humble, and preferring others over ourselves. However, when we try to put those principles into practice it is always harder than we think. As Eric and I mentor young couples and as we endeavor to use good communication in our own marriage, we have found 5 simple phrases that make all the difference in the effectiveness of our communication.
A deep down, heart-felt “I am sorry. I was wrong” can change the trajectory of a relationship in the right direction faster than anything else.
There is nothing magical about these phrases, but they just seem to steer conversation in the right direction… they have helped us and hopefully can help you too!
Here they are …
1. “I feel….”
Too many couples are all too good at using the “you” pronoun: “YOU, are the one that got us in this mess!” or “YOU always mess things up!” As soon as the pronoun “you” is used, your companion feels attacked, angry, and defensive. Instead, try to use the pronoun “I”: “I felt dishonored this afternoon when you responded to me that way”. It is amazing how a conversation can soften when you choose to be vulnerable and share your emotions, instead of pointing your finger and telling your partner (or friend) what they did wrong. Remember, it’s not what you say, but how you say it.
2. “What I hear you saying is…”
It is amazing how frequently two people who are involved in the same conversation walk away hearing totally different things. The “what I hear you saying” phrase is a good communication skill that forces the habit of summarizing what was communicated. Here is what it might look like: “What I hear you saying is that you feel dishonored and sad when I respond harshly or raise my voice at you. I am sorry, I need to be more conscious of how my voice tone affects you.” If you get in the habit of using this phrase you and your partner will walk away from more conversations feeling more united and understood.
3. “I am sorry”
Isn’t this the most important phrase in all relational conversations? We can probably all get better at saying “I am sorry” either more frequently or sooner in conversation. This phrase is loaded with redemptive power. A deep down, heart-felt “I am sorry. I was wrong” can change the trajectory of a relationship in the right direction faster than anything else. Let’s just bite the bullet, get over ourselves, and admit that we are not perfect… our relationships will be better because of it.
4. “Good Job”
Who doesn’t want to hear the words: “Wow, good job!” There is enough negativity and personal insecurities in the world. We need to be a voice of positivity and encouragement in our friends’ and partner’s life. If we are not telling them “great job!”, then who is?! Our loved ones do not know all the positive things that we think about them; we need to be intentional to say a word of encouragement at least once a day to the one we love the most.
5. “I love you”
More than likely, your spouse or significant other probably does not hear this three word phrase enough. We need to give more hugs and more heart-felt “I love you’s” throughout the week. Life gets busy and stressful, but let’s not forget to love on the people that we love the most.
See, there is nothing super special or magical about these 5 phrases, but they do work! Hopefully one of these phrases is a new tool that you can put in your relational communication tool belt!
If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.Romans 12:18 NIV