Learn to Communicate

Written by Geri Forsberg PhD

communicateCan you imagine what your life would be like if you couldn’t communicate? That means no tone of voice, no body language or facial expressions, no words, no alphabet. Nothing.

Effective skills in communication are necessary to maintain and increase the quality of our lives. If we can’t communicate effectively, we will be led in a direction we don’t want to go. We all have misunderstandings within our relationships. And it would be very easy to become confused, frustrated and disappointed simply because we are unable to communicate appropriately.

Broken and difficult relationships can be avoided by understanding the principles of communication, and the pitfalls we encounter.

When we know and understand the process of communication, we can actively implement the principles, hone our skills, avoid the problems and become the effective communicators that we all desire to be.

The language we use to symbolize reality is incomplete.

We will always leave something out when we’re retelling a story because we can never say everything about something. And the words we choose to describe something are not reality. They are our understanding of reality.

Do you remember the telephone game from elementary school? One child whispered a message to the next, who then passed it on down the line. By the time the message was spoken aloud at the end of its trip, it varied immensely. Why? Because each child understood the message differently and passed on what she thought were the important details.

How do we avoid the pitfall of miscommunicating reality?

Be careful in the words you choose. Be sure they symbolize what you really mean. And when you’re communicating with someone, ask questions to clarify what the person really intends to say. If you are unsure about what your colleague means when he tells you he doesn’t feel well, ask. Find out what his reality is.

What do you do if someone gets angry at you and says, “You’re all alike. I just can’t stand it.” The simplest and most natural thing to do is to react because she is angry. But imagine what would happen if you ask a simple question like, “What do you mean, we’re all alike? What can’t you stand?” Those questions and a few extra minutes allows the angry person to elaborate on her sentiments and inform you directly what is the matter. Then you can respond more appropriately.

We all see the world differently.

How we encounter the world has been influenced by who we are, our backgrounds, our education, our values and beliefs, our needs, positions, jobs, and more. In other words, we each see the world through our own set of lenses.

To become better at communicating, and to understand others’ perceptions, we need to ask questions. We need to listen. Learn to delay your reaction until you have more information so you don’t form inaccurate assumptions.

In the real world everything is extremely complex. With language, we simplify it by categorizing our words and ideas, and often the categories are either/or opposites.

In the process of simplifying things, we omit details, forget differences, ignore uniquenesses, and eliminate the various levels of meaning. When we view life through such a narrow spectrum, thinking that life is as simple as an “either/or” situation, communication breakdowns are bound to occur.

So, to guard against these pitfalls, we need to develop an open mind with each other and within our relationships. If you believe that reality is as simple as hot or cold, then you can only accept someone and accept what they say or you have to reject that person and reject what they say. However, if you have an open mind, you have more options.

In the real world everything occurs within a context.

We have probably all been misunderstood or had misunderstandings when something has been taken out of its original context.

Although we don’t fully understand how much our environment influences us, we need to consider that when we communicate. We must be able to understand the context of our own communication. And we must understand that every message we receive has its own context. By understanding these foundational principles of communication, we can avoid and even solve our communication woes.

With those principles in mind, here are five things you can begin to do today to help you become a better communicator:

  1. Ask questions. Don’t assume you understand what a person means. Once you ask a few questions, it doesn’t take long to really find out what she really means.
  2. Listen. To become a better communicator, you must be willing to listen so you can understand the other person’s perspective.
  3. Observe and be willing to verify the information you receive.
  4. Let people know what you are thinking by sharing it. By disclosing information about yourself, it aids the other person in understanding who you are and how you are understanding them.
  5. Remember that love covers a multitude of sins. If your motives are wanting to understand people and accept them for who they are, then communication will be easier. But if you set out to convince them that your way is the right way, then that’s not communication. And that’s not love.

Take some time to think about a specific communication problem (difficulty, challenge) you have had recently or in the past.

  1. In a few sentences, describe the problem.
  2. In what environment (context) did this communication problem occur? (home, extended family, workplace, other)
  3. Was the communication problem resolved? If so, was it resolved to everyone’s satisfaction? How was the communication problem resolved?
  4. What principles of communication could help you with this situation or other communication challenges in the future?

Now ask yourself some tough questions about how you communicate.

  • Am I seeking to understand the person?
  • Am I listening and really hearing what he is saying?
  • Am I expressing my own point of view so she understands what I mean?
  • Is there anything I’m doing in my nonverbal communication (tone of voice, body language, etc.) that I don’t intend to communicate?
  • Am I making a quick judgement without examining the facts?
  • Am I trying to see things from many different angles or am I just looking at things in an either/or fashion?
  • Am I adjusting my own communication patterns to suit the person I’m dealing with?

Developing your communication skills and abilities is a lifelong process. Throughout our lives we are faced with challenges in communicating effectively. You can learn to be a more effective communicator by:

  1. Observing and imitating excellent communicators.
  2. Learning from your own and others’ mistakes.
  3. Developing a conscious awareness of communication habits, patterns, styles, strengths, weaknesses.
  4. Applying principles of effective communication.
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43 Responses to “Learn to Communicate”

  • Kate Kate says:

    Hi Kathy, is there any local school, like a high school or college or university where you could take a course? Another fantastic possibility is joining a Toastmasters International club. They have a lot of materials for helping people become confident communicators and being in a group environment is great for learning. Search their name and see if they have a group in your area. Some websites also have tutorials online, for example I know Lynda dot com offers a variety of materials in all kinds of subject areas. Do not lose hope! With your desire, you already have a great start!

  • Kathy says:

    Hi,

    I don’t have a problem communicating with a loved one, I have a problem communicating in general – writing and communicating.

    I don’t read much…not my fault. I was raised in an Hispanic city with my mom being Hispanic. She was more fluent in Spanish than English. Her English is broken up…not very well communicated. This is how I was raised. She never read to me. My dad died when I was 7 years old.

    In my 40’s owning my own publishing company, I still find myself struggling with communicating professionally and writing professionally. It’s very frustrating and embarrassing on my part.

    I had always thought that maybe it was because I wasn’t born smart! But maybe it’s the lack of my parents encouraging me and helping me as a child. I have no idea…I’m assuming this is my problem.

    I am desperately needing your help. How can I improve and become a better communicator and writer? It’s very important to me, my family and my business.

    I am scared to communicate with professional speakers or well educated ones because I can’t seem to find the right words to say, or find a way not to sound so dumb.

    Anything you can do to help me is greatly appreciated!!!

    Thank you,

    Kathy

  • Jamie Jamie says:

    Hi Misunderstood, communication is not always easy and with some people it can be more challenging. There are things that you can do differently to help your man understand and to make sure he has understood. It is going to take some creativity on your part but that is what makes relationships a team effort: both you and your man working together to communicate better together. Just a simple question like, “I would like to be sure I am saying what I mean. What do you hear me saying?” Asking for feedback from him will help you better guage what he hears from you.

  • misunderstood says:

    U am I constantly misunderstood by my man
    No matter what I say or do itz never good enough

  • Doris Beck Doris says:

    Mick, you are so right, you are definitely not alone in this. My prayer for you would be that in taking time apart you would both work at learning to communicate better and that in the end you would be able to come back together having learned what it takes to grow your relationship. Counseling is a great place to start and can teach you a lot about yourself and why you do what you do.

  • Mick says:

    Thanks for this. My second wife and I are about to take time away from each other after 10 years together and 4 married years. Truth is that we both aren’t good communicators and we haven’t done so for years. For my part, I am coming to grips with why I have been like that and I trying to address this with counselling and by improving myself.

    I have come to realise too late that failure to communicate and allowing everything to bottle up has such negative results.

    Your article is helpful as it reinforces what I am coming to learn. I see so much comparison in the other posts so I know I am not alone in this.

    Thank you.

  • Sharon Sharon says:

    good article i have trouble communicating with family members when they talk about others i don’t know on how to tell them not to talk about others

  • j.miwen says:

    Hi I find it dificult to communicate to my girlfriend when I call her on phone and I didn’t what to say.

  • Nicole Kiefer says:

    I strongly agree with the article, that communication is the foundation of a working relationship!
    I am in a relationship for 6 years now and we plan to get married next year – which is beautiful :) But it hadn’t always been this easy. At the beginning of our relationship we fought and yelled a lot at each other without consideration. Back then people were always saying: You can’t live without each other, but neither can you live with each other! It was so frustrating getting into fights aaaall the time (I’m sure some of you know this problem)! After another huge dispute I explained our situation to my best friend and she was like: “So, did you tell him how you feel? Do you know what he meant when he said this and that? Does he know, that this is a big issue for you?” And I felt pretty bad, because .. Of course I couldn’t give her a single answer to her questions -.- it made her very angry and she advised me to go talk to somebody about how things could go more smoothly between my boyfriend and me. I decided to talk to someone, who didn’t know me and didn’t know him either … someone objective with no prejudice.

    So I decided to stay anonymous and contact a coach via voice-chat on Your24hCoach (website where you can consult a coach directly over the internet). He listened carefully to my explanations and gently gave advice and told me that we just have to LISTEN to each other and DISCUSS issues calmly and peacefully. At the beginning, it was hard to put the advices into action, but after some tie, we really understood what he meant and managed to have normal conversation. And now? There is not a single issue I couldn’t discuss with my man :) Feel free to check it out, because I know how frustrating it is .. being stuck in fights. Talking to someone will improve your relationship!

  • Kate Kate says:

    Dear Misunderstood,

    Thank you for reaching out and letting us know how you feel. We all feel misunderstood in many ways, so my heart goes out to you. How have the past few days been going, what has happened since the weekend?

    Some of the key words I noticed were “my fault”, “scared”, “emotionally wrecked”, and “self-esteem issues.” How are you coping with all these things? Do you have a mature woman you can trust? Have you thought of sitting down with a counsellor? Please consider connecting with one of our mentors, who would correspond with you privately and regularly to keep you encouraged and share your highs and lows. Just click here: http://powertochange.com/discover/talk-to-a-mentor/

    For me, I definitely remember how it felt when I confused romance or sex with love. Through getting more involved in my church, especially talking with other young and more mature women in a small group, and learning God’s perspective on our relationships, and how He loves us… I really found my life started to change, my broken heart started to heal, and I found new hope and confidence.

    The most important thing you said, I think, was: “Still that hasn’t curbed my desire of love.” I felt that way for a long, long time… no matter if my relationship was great or terrible, there was still a craving inside. A lot of people call it a God-shaped hole, because God created us for relationship with Him, and He is the only perfect love, never failing, totally unconditional. Maybe you would enjoy this video clip: http://powertochange.com/itv/spirituality/crave-the-documentary/

    I want to pray for you now: Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for Misunderstood. Thank You that even when it feels like no one on earth can really understand us, You understand everything — You see our hearts, our thoughts, every detail, our past, our present and our future! Help us to get to know You, so that You can care for us a perfect Father, friend, husband and Savior. I pray that You would draw Misunderstood into Your loving embrace, so that faith would grow, hearts would be healed, true love would be experienced and fears overcome. I thank You for hearing and answering this prayer in Jesus’ name. Amen.

    Write back anytime, your thoughts are always welcome here!

    Blessings,
    Kate

  • Misunderstood says:

    Hi I’m misunderstood. My current relationship status is complicated, because we just broke up. Though It’s plainly clear there still romance between us. Cuz a few days ago we had xoxo time that almost led to sex. I know he cares I just don’t if he loves me like before
    And honestly the break up was my fault. The night before we fell out. He took his stuff and left but we talked that mornin, but i broke up with him the same day because I was scared he that didn’t want to be with me because I was emotionally wrecked. Lately It’s become quite clear to me that I have serious self esteem issues. Still that hasn’t curbed my desire of love.
    Alas I know we have issues to work out. But is it possible for me to rekindle my flame

  • Claire Colvin Claire Colvin says:

    Hi Kimberly, In my experience the only thing that comes naturally is breathing. Pretty much everything else takes work. We have this idea that if love is real is should be easy. That’s simply not true. When love is real it’s not easy, it’s worth the effort. (I think that this idea is one of the leading causes of divorce today. We’re shocked when love takes work and assume we must be in the wrong love. But that’s besides the point.)

    You said that you’ve just come out of a horrible relationship. There could be all sorts of things at work in how you relate now. If you were in danger in your last relationship you might have learned to communicate in a certain way to protect yourself. If that’s the case your heart and emotions won’t simply slip over into a new pattern of communication just because you’re safe now. Learning a new pattern takes time. I do not know you, but I have to wonder how much time passed between ending the horrible relationship and getting engaged? Often when we’ve been through a trauma we need time to heal before we get into a new relationship with someone else – even if it’s picking up an old relationship.

    I would definitely encourage you to see a counsellor. A professional can help you work through what happened (even the messy parts) and coach you as you learn new ways to communicate. The other thing I’d suggest looking out for is this – do you feel like your fiancee is telling you that you need to get better faster? If so, he may want to speak to a counsellor as well. Depending on how horrible horrible was, there may be some things he’s going to need to know to be able to be gentle with you and aware of where your hurts are. When we’re healing we’re always a little more sensitive in the places that got damaged before. If you ever felt like he does not respect your healing process or that he was rushing you or trying to downplay what happened, that might be a red flag. Something to discuss with the counsellor. I think it’s important that you heal for your own sake, not just to keep him from leaving. I know it’s hard, but fight the urge to pretend that you got better faster just so that he will be more comfortable. The goal here is for you to be comfortable too. If you’d like to speak to someone privately, we have mentors available.

  • kimberly says:

    I have recently come out of a horrible relationship and i am now engaged to my highschool sweetheart and I am having a hard time communicating with him. He says it should come natural but it’s not. I need help becuase if I don’t start talking I think he going to leave.

  • cfast cfast says:

    Daniel,

    You will notice we removed part of your comment. Please refrain from name calling on this site. We encourage friendly and open debate but if you continue to condemn other participants, we will have no choice but to remove your comments from our site. Please see our Terms of Service for more information.

    Power to Change Editorial

  • daniel says:

    [comment removed by Editor] who ever said marriage makes things worse don’t lozenges to that and I’m sorry god is not the Answer to that your marriage failed because you did nothing too fix it if you love someone you will try everything to make it work here’s some good advice get to know him better his life ask him about his child hood even if its the smallest dumb story be his friend as if u were talking to your best friend share your stories with him little stuff like that will make all the difference don’t give up marriage has its ups and Downs don’t let people put religion in it cause at the end of the day its how much you love the person and are willling to fight for what u love

  • Jamie Jamie says:

    Hi Confuse Girl, Does this article help you? Are you able to take the ideas here and work on getting better at communication? Let me encourage you to talk with one of our online mentors. They can help you prepare to talk with other people so that you can be more effective in those relationships. Just fill out the Mentor Request Form at http://powertochange.com/experience/talk-to-a-mentor and one of our mentors will contact you by email.

  • Confuse girl says:

    I can communicate thru sms essy. Talk alot thru sms. But when meeting up, i have no idea what to talk about. And this have been casing alot alot of problem for me. i try and wanted to communicate well with people but i have no idea what there to talk about. be it girl or boy.

  • Andrew Andrew says:

    @Camille speaking first hand I understand the frustration of dating someone who does not communicate. One of the mistakes I made in my life even though God used the final result as a positive is getting married to someone who did not know how to communicate. My marriage ended in divorce 7 years after I got married and their were many issues with one being communication.

    I would caution you to earnestly seek Christ and ask him if this man is for you. In marriage things only get worse and are magnified ten to twenty times greater than what you face now. You may earnestly love him but do you honestly think after six years he will change? Many people myself included rush into relationships in seeking love, peace and fulfillment when I should have first sought Christ as I am doing so now. Christs love is more than any other man can give you so I would seek Christs will in this and wait as you could be making a big mistake that you will regret later in life. Christ will send you the right man if this man you are engaged to is not him. Read 1 Cor. 13 and if these traits are not in your relationship then it will be difficult.

    God Bless,

  • Camille says:

    I have been with my fiance for 6 years now and I am now having mixed emotions about getting married to him because of the simple fact that he does not think anything dealing with him is my business. He only communicates with me on certain levels. The levels being is when we have have to make a decision on something financially or anything dealing with finances basically him asking me for help financially. Anything else dealing with him, he feels is not my business. He states if he doesn’t want to share anything with me then he doesn’t have to and I should respect that. I am very open with him about everything even if it’s not dealing with him, I’m open. If something slips my mind and I don’t share something with him he makes sure that he makes me aware of it and I still don’t have a problem sharing with him. But I can’t do that to him. I don’t believe in keeping anything from him. Is it wrong for me to be hurt by the way he is going about things? I’m totally confused and don’t understand!

  • Kate Kate says:

    Hi John,

    I hope the article held some encouraging tips for you, and as has been suggested elsewhere, it would be great to read the article together with your girlfriend.

    If you like, you can request to be in touch with a mentor:
    http://powertochange.com/discover/talk-to-a-mentor/

    Mentors are caring individuals who will respond to you in a private and confidential manner and do so usually within a few days to a week. The support of an online mentor can be of tremendous help, and you may write to them whenever you desire to do so.

    God bless,
    Kate

  • john says:

    for my reason when i try to (communicate) with my gf….its like she runs from me and sumtimes its like talking too a brick wall..oy

  • B. Miller Brenda says:

    Megs, I hear the pain and confusion in your post. Have you gone through the suggestions in this article and shared them with your friend? Perhaps if the two of you are able to read this article together and agree to put into practice Geri’s suggestions, that will open up communication in a less defensive mode. Also, have you and your friend considered counseling to get to the root of your communication blockage? Often, when we are unable to get to the root of a problem on our own, another can help to add clarity. I also suggest praying before you communicate on a deep level, as the Lord can help us to be slow to answer quickly when another lacks patience or openness in a conversation, and He can also give us insight into how to proceed. Please feel free to also to contact a mentor if you want to discuss your relationship difficulties with someone online in a confidential manner. God bless you, Megs. I pray you and your girlfriend are able to come to an understanding of what is creating the blocks in your relationship.

  • B. Miller Brenda says:

    Sherri, I am so sorry for the pain in your relationship. It is probably quite true that your husband does not know what he is thinking and feeling much of the time, especially if he is not one to delve into those areas on a deep level. However, if both of you are willing, then Jesus can heal all relationships. If your husband is not willing, it may very well benefit you to consider again seeing a counselor, and especially a Christian counselor to understand who you are as a child of God and not be dragged down by the negative comments of your husband, whether he intends to do so or not. I also want to offer you the opportunity to speak to one of our online mentors, which you can do by filling out the simple form at the following link:

    http://powertochange.com/discover/talk-to-a-mentor/

    Mentors are caring individuals who will respond to you in a private and confidential manner and do so usually within a few days to a week. The support of an online mentor can be of tremendous help, and you may write to them whenever you desire to do so.

    I pray you find support and comfort from the Lord and from others in your situation, Sherri, as I believe that the Lord desires for your love and heart to be nurtured. God bless you!

  • Sherri says:

    Hello,
    Thank you to all who have shared. How refreshing.
    I have been married for almost 19 years. Because our story is long and complicated, I haven’t the time to give it all.
    My husband is 7 years older. He came from a home that showed affection, but never really said, “I love you.” He is able to say that though. Able to hug, and able to be very sweet. But…. there is this flip side of him. And in the midst of any sweetness he gives, 90% of our relationship time, whether in the car or at home is him in an inside place that he goes.
    I have on many occasions expressed, that I feel alone. He has sometimes out of no where said, ” I am sorry I am not there for you.”
    On one occasion I expressed that I needed to know his hopes, dreams, thoughts ( not everyone of them of course ) future plans or desires. He simply stated, “what is in my heart is my business and no one elses.” But what about friendship? Sharing of future plans? Marriage. Covenant? One time he told me, ” I don’t even think, I know myself or what I am thinking.” Or “there is not much in here that I feel anyone would want to know.” That is scary.
    I am most concerned because, I am growing colder. I have begun to spend all my time on the computer, playing a mental card game of skill, or buying and selling on Ebay.
    He continues to watch TV or engage in more sports activities than one could imagine. Fishing, Golf, Hunting and such.
    He has a temper and I am no longer able to ask him to give me a little more of himself. He says, ” I am a good provider and should be enough.” I have been in counseling but not lately. They told me that he projects and deflects, in arguments. He can say 10 things to devalue me, in one minute when he feels defensive. He can Win! But he is loosing with me.
    There are so many good qualities about him. I hate to see our marriage end, but I need a friend, if I am to be married/intimate. I have not so much as spoken to another male.
    I think if I were to leave, I don’t want to ever be in a relationship again. To be completely focused on God. Married to Jesus, on a deeper level.
    A year ago we were on our way to Yellowstone. He was upset with the way I was navigating. As I too was on a need to know basis, as maps don’t tell you everything. He jerked the map out of my hands, it hit the window and he yelled something demeaning. I looked to my right and silent tears fell. He then said, ” I am sorry. It is not you. It is me. I find no interest in you, God or anything.”
    I have mulled those words over for a while. He has been in that dark place, for a while, I am sure.
    I too think he is tired of trying. My counselor said there is a chance he will choose to not give me what I need. It is his choice.
    I am growing numb and everyday I think about leaving. But… I love him and I am afraid that as dysfunctional as it is, I will leave less a person. Half of me here.
    But I am very lonely. I’ve grown depressed. I suffer from exhausting fatigue, and I am eating to worsen it. I know that is the result of “real problems with false solutions.”
    My husband says, he loves my heart. My honesty and my ability to be calm and express myself, yet I feel that angers him the more and he feels the more the looser for not giving me what I need.
    We are Christians and my husband has served on a board of elders. Not currently though.
    To leave might give me relief and a lighter road, to stay…. will it kill me?
    Kind Regards,
    Sherri

  • Megs says:

    So I have been with my gf for 10 months and things were amazing for the first 5 months or so. We moved really fast. I am not sure what happened or when or where it happened but somewhere along the way we lost our ability to communicate. I get defensive and she gets defensive. She is a very emotional person and I am a little more guarded, I am sensitive but don’t show it very often. I am a very sweet and loving person and I do little things for her all the time and I have never given her a reason to doubt my feelings for her yet I find myself constantly having to defend my feelings. I feel like the things I say she constantly twists or overanalyzes everything. If I forget to tell her something she thinks its because Its not important and I don’t care and that means I don’t respect her. Im just so exhausted from all the miscommunicating and I just want to get this figured out.

  • Andrew Andrew says:

    Hi Steven,

    When we keep our guard up and not say anything it is like having poison inside of you. The longer you guard your heart the less you have to say it may seem like you are frozen because you don’t want to become vulnerable. Become vulnerable and tell her what you feel even if it many not be true but at least it will help her with your train of thought so she understands why you don’t want to say anything. Most important is to pray and read the Bible together as then God will reveal things in your relationship that you need to change.

  • Steven says:

    Hi, I have been dating my girlfriend for two and a half year. I am not really a talkative person. She is really special and lovable. However, we always have arguments. She always says that spending time with me is so boring and nothing to talk about. Even I tried to talk, its hard to continue the conversation. I mean is it I am too stupid to keep the conversation going? She is always mad about it, and I cannot resolve this problem. I love doing anything with her, but she is looking for more talking and communication between us. She also said she always need to think really hard to talk to me. I want this problem to be solved. I know this is my personal problem. Please help me.

  • zb says:

    Thank you for your reply and you are right I do somehow feel he is superior
    My full story is he has 3 kids from his last relationship when we first met he and his ex used to speak more than once aa day and spent time together he was not physically cheating on me but their relationship was inappropriate and hidden from me (they had been split 3 yrs before I met him) I found out and told him I will not stay in a relationship with him being that close to another woman, he did make their relationship only to do with the kids, although I don’t bad mouth her if she does something to upset me he defends her, all this has made me feel insecure. I have mad a huge effort with the kids and have a good relationship with them. When I became pregnant I was very ill untill the end. Towards the end I felt unsupported. The day I was due his ex wanted us to have the kids I said no, he defended his ex again I did tell him to choose who he is loyal to he said me and that it wouldn’t happen again. He was supportive during labour I couldn’t have done it without him, I had a c section and was home two days later. When I got home we had his family visit everyday a lot, I didn’t have the space to recover and I feel he didn’t take care of me, he had his kids for the night twice in the first week and didn’t consult me first, I was tired. He and his kids gave my baby the first bath and walk that really hurt me. Now he is working away during the week and his kids are here at the weekend we don’t have much time together and I’m left to do everything including clean up after his kids who should no better. Most of this has gone un spoken about and the feelings are just building up inside me. Right now I feel taken for granted un appreciated and not special to him how to I structure talking about everything without blame and overwhelming
    Him. Do I start pas issues or present. Its not all bad we have good times and I know he loves me and I have faith that if I handle it right things will improve

  • Claire Colvin Claire Colvin says:

    Zib, Your feelings are not wrong. They are feelings, reactions that come from a mix of your personality and your experience, your hopes and your dreams. Sometimes we can express our feelings in an inappropriate way – yelling out loud in the middle of a wedding, or screaming at someone at the office – but the feelings themselves are not right or wrong, they are just feelings.

    I do not know you or your partner but it sounds a bit like you’ve been told you are less important than he is, or that he is superior in some way? I could just be reading your comment wrong, but if he makes you feel that way, you do need to talk to him. Love is supposed to build us up, it’s supposed to support and encourage. In a committed relationship like yours, it’s supposed to be the two of you against the world, a team, together. If that’s not what it feels like, then it’s time to talk. Sometimes the other person has no idea that they have made us feel that way. If you don’t tell him you take away his opportunity to change.

    You have a baby with this man so he’s going to be family forever. It’s not going to get easier if you keep your feelings to yourself, but it CAN get better if you talk about it. If you can’t get the words out, write them down. Tell him that you need to talk to him but it’s hard so you’ve written it down and would like him to read it so you can talk about it afterwards. Be careful to give him the letter at the right time. If he’s stressed, or just got home or is late for something, it’s not a good time to give it to him. Give it to him when he has some time to read it over. Tell that him you love him and that you’re not angry but you do want to communicate better.

    Often people avoid conflict don’t realize that they are bringing conflict into their life, they are just taking the full force of it themselves. It can be tempting to think that dealing with a conflict alone is easier but it’s just as damaging. You can’t be the emotional bomb squad forever. You’re probably thinking that you’re strong enough to handle it, and that’s probably true, but just because you can handle it doesn’t mean that you should and it doesn’t mean that it’s healthy. Have you considered seeing a counsellor together to learn some techniques for communicating? You have a lifetime ahead of you, that’s an awfully long time to stay silent.

  • zib says:

    Hi I have been with my partner 4 3 yrs and I still don’t know how to talk about my feelings, I am afraid that my feelings are wrong even though I know their not, I am a people pleaser and don’t like conflict. Because of this I end up accepting thing I shouldn’t and hold them against him in my head, I make out I don’t need any1 I can manage everything. I have been hurt by my partner many times and don’t speak up, if I do I usually explode then feel dissapointed for doing it. I have a baby love my man and want this to work

  • Claire Colvin Claire Colvin says:

    Hi Kim, Communication can be tricky, but as you are finding out it is absolutely critical to the health of any relationship. If you want to spend time with someone, get to know them, come to love them, then you have to communicate. It is essential to togetherness. So what you need to figure out is whether all communication is hard for you or if there are certain topics that cause you extra stress. Take a look at your upbringing. Were you encourage to speak up as a child or told to stay silent? Were your ideas and stories welcomed, listened to, and respected or were they dismissed? Sometimes we get taught that what we have to say isn’t important so we stop saying it. Your boyfriend is saying just the opposite. He values your speech, he needs to hear it. It can be hard to unlearn something like that but it can be done.

    First off, start small. If you do not usually communicate much, you’re not going to wake up tomorrow morning and be a chatterbox. Take it in steps. Tell your boyfriend that you want to work on it and that you need his help. Second, create a safe place to communicate. Often we stay silent because we are afraid – afraid of the other person’s reaction, afraid that our thoughts and feeling are incorrect and we’ll be ridiculed for them. Think about what feels safe to you. Is it easier to start out talking to him on the phone so you don’t have to look him in the face? Is it easier if he’s touching you? You could try sitting beside him, have him put his arm around you and see if that makes it easier to speak. You could try writing down what you want to say and giving it to him. You need to find one step that gets you to start communicating so you can see how he reacts and see that communicating is a good thing, not a scary thing.

    Ask your boyfriend what the top 3 things he wants to know are and see if you can tell him your answers to those. It’s just about finding a place to start. Like any skill, good communication takes practice. The more you do it, the easier it becomes. Remember too that you have someone who genuinely cares about you. You’re not alone in this. He is not demanding that you communicate because he wants to end the relationship – just the opposite, he wants MORE of you. He wants to be with you. That is a wonderful thing. Let him help you. If you would like to talk to a mentor about this privately through email, mentoring is available (and it’s free). Simply use this form to request a mentor.

  • kim says:

    hi i have a big problem with communication in my relationship my partner also tell me i dont communicate with him and the relationship is falling apart from because of that what can i do to avoid that i does have things to say but i cant put them over could u please help me

  • Doris Beck Doris says:

    Z, as Jamie said in the comment before yours, there are a lot of great articles on this site about communication and I would highly recommend taking the time to read them. Check them out here http://powertochange.com/s/5/tags/communication/

    Also, if you would like to have one of our personal online mentors walk alongside of you, just fill in the information on this form and someone will email you. http://powertochange.com/discover/talk-to-a-mentor/ Learning to communicate takes time but the good news it is something that can be learned.

  • Z says:

    I desperatly need advice. I have awful communication skills, always have. It carried on into my relationhips. It has caused me and my partner[s] a lot of grief. I use alot of sybliminals instead of saying what i truly mean. Also. When communicating i cannot form the correct words to say to get my point across. HELP PLEASE DESPERATE

  • Jamie Jamie says:

    Hi Rana, There are a number of other resources that you can look at on our sites that talk about communication. You can browse through them here.

    Another good training for communication is Toastmasters. It is a group of people that meet together regularly to improve their public speaking skills. As you develop your confidence and skill in speaking to groups of people it will also dramatically improve the way you speak to people one-on-one. There is lots of good training and support within the group. If you go to their webpage you can find a group near you.

  • rana says:

    I am a nice person who always say yes. and i feel that I am very boring to people. and i realy want to improve myself to become more effective communicator, so i would be able to enjoy friends company.

  • cfast Power to Change says:

    anonymous, Geri Forsberg (who is not on staff with Power to Change) wrote this article over 3 years ago and is therefore considered an older piece of content. Power to Change is not responsible for any citing issues in this case, as it was written by a volunteer author. If you would like to take your accusation to the source, please consider writing to Geri by visiting https://www1.twu.ca/collectors/websiteauthor/feedbackform.aspx?page=http://twu.ca/about/. Thank you.

  • anonymous says:

    i like how you take word for word what a feminist magazine says, then fail to properly cite them as a source. for instance, “We will always leave something out when we’re retelling a story because we can never say everything about something. And the words we choose to describe something are not reality. They are our understanding of reality,” is exactly word-for-word from femlive.com.

  • mikey says:

    Does anyone know of any other sites about communication? I had a recent break-up and after evaluating my mis-haps I understood that I did not communicate clearly enough things I wanted. If anyone has any suggestions I would appreciate it.

  • blue-jay says:

    does comunication count if you are just talking to yourself?? Especially when you feel that you really need to talk about some things..and he only says..”why dont you just f—ing die”??

  • Without communication it is like being only half-alive.
    Without effective communication it is like being only a quarter.

    Author – Nectar of the Grateful Victim

  • bharathy says:

    i want to communicate with womens because they have the maturity.

  • joy says:

    it so true. communication is a MUST skill.

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