The hardest skill to master in order to maintain a successful, loving relationship is communication. Being unable to express one’s thoughts clearly and accurately is a heavy burden to bear when trying to hold a conversation. It often causes misunderstandings and unnecessary arguments. Plainly expressing one’s thoughts is a lesson that many do not learn. The staggering number divorces in recent years may be the effect of ill-communication. Even with all the conveyances of modern day (cellar phones, modems, pagers), important ideas, somehow are not being expressed.  In a relationship one can easily misinterpret a statement and become upset. Openly expressing full thoughts and carefully listening to what your mate is saying are two worthy and helpful tips on holding up the communication bridge.

Many times, people become frustrated at their partner’s lack of understanding. Unfortunately, no one can read minds. That fact makes it of the utmost importance to be able to let your mate in on what you are thinking. How can he or she possibly do what you want them to do if he or she does not know what it is that you are wanting? Always present thoughts and ideas as clearly as possible.

Sarcasm is often a pitfall for communication. When a person states an idea one way but means it in a totally different way, it is no wonder that he or she will be misunderstood. With just a slight change in the tone of voice, which many times may go unnoticed, the sarcasm might lose its’ humorous connotations and accidentally become hurtful.

This is also true with facial expressions. They can be misinterpreted and then become a stumbling block for the rest of the conversation. When talking with your partner keep in mind that 75% of what we communicate is body language. Be careful not to imply anything with facial expressions or other body language that you do not intend.

Expressing full, complete, ideas are extremely important. If you are mad, tell your partner that you are and tell him or her reason of the aggravation. If you express an emotion, be ready to describe it and expose its’ cause. It is important that you have enough trust in your partner that you can tell him or her anything.

“There is much to be said about a good listener. They are kind, compassionate, and humble.” The ability to listen to someone and fully understand him or her is definitely a talent. Such a talent is admirable. If a healthy and fruitful relationship is the goal its’ members should strive to become better listeners. There is much benefit in such a skill.

In order to be a good listener a person has to be willing to wait till the speaker is finished speaking to respond. A good listener cannot assume anything. This skill does not allow the listener to formulate arguments while listening. You must give the speaker your complete attention.

Too many times when people have arguments or even mere conversations they constantly interrupt each other. This makes it difficult to present complete ideas. When someone interrupts you with a statement you will probably respond to that statement because it has deterred your focus to a different point. When you respond to the other person’s interrupting statement, it makes it much harder for that person to understand what it is that you are trying to say. You lose the chance to explain yourself completely when you are interrupted and therefore interruption becomes a break in the bridge of communication.

Remember the saying, “Assumption makes an ass out of you and me?” That phrase is particularly true when it applied to communicating. Many times a listener will listen “between the lines” and misinterpret the speaker. Assuming a speaker’s subject or purpose causes a collapse in communication that is painstakingly hard to correct, taking valuable time and energy.

Formulating arguments and/or responses to a speaker’s statements requires time. The time however should not be the time during which your partner is speaking. Your partner deserves your complete attention. If you wait to hear the speaker’s full thought and can more accurately respond to him or her.

To successfully uphold the bridge of communication in a relationship, partners most both be willing to become better at expressing themselves completely and thoroughly, and to try harder at becoming a better listener. This will take time and practice, but with persistence the skills will develop. Communication is the key in relationships. Whether the relationship will be a success or a total disaster depends heavily on the partners’ communication skills.

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