We all know that good communication is a major piece in having a great relationship.
However, you would be surprised at how often people say things that cause damage in their relationship without even realizing they are doing it.
“You Should” is on the top of the list of offensive communication patterns. Using this phrase lets your partner know that you feel you are right and know what is best for them. Even if you are right and know best, this is not the way to communicate it. Using phraseology such as, “Perhaps if you tried this…” is a much more effective approach. No one wants to be told what to do, especially by their partner. Using “You should” statements not only creates immediate resistance in a person, it puts a ding in your partnership as equals.
“Don’t Talk To Me” is one of the best ways to shut down communication and build up resentments. In the heat of the moment when one partner says this to another they are creating more discord and possible damage. To avoid this common trap, while in the middle of a fight that is getting worse ask your partner for a time out. You can say something like, ” This is not helping us get through this… would it be alright with you to take a little break so we can both cool off?” This way you are not dictating or ordering you are merely extending a coping mechanism to avoid further upset or damage to your relationship.
“You Always” is never ever a good way to start off a statement when it is followed by a negative comment. To use the word “always” clearly tells your partner that they can never do things right for you. This is an instantaneous block for any good communication to occur. Another choice would be to say, ” I feel _____ when ______” or in other words, “I feel hurt when you do not call when you are going to be late getting home.” This way you are taking out of the over generalized absolute and instead making it about the present situation.
“You Made Me Angry” is never a true statement and surely not a good piece of communication. There is no one who can make you feel angry or anyway for that matter. You alone are in charge of your thoughts and feelings. If you become angry by your partner’s actions or words that is a reaction within you. For instance, your partner may do and say things that you do not like but only you can choose to become angry over it. Therefore, if this occurs instead of saying “You did this to me” you would say, “I feel angry right now.” By doing this you are taking personal responsibility for your feelings rather than blaming your partner for them.
“You are a ______!” Any kind of name-calling is never, ever, ever appropriate. When couples open the door this, it allows in unneeded hurt, anger, and resentment that takes work to heal from. I always advise the couples I am working with to have a boundary of “no name calling no matter what.” This is absolutely vital for the health and well-being of any good relationship.
Most people do not intend to have poor communication or create damage in their relationship by their statements. However, this is a common trap many couples fall into. In order to avoid this one must learn proper communication skills.
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Bree Maresca-Kramer, M.A., is a contributing blogger for JenningsWire, a blogging community created by Annie Jennings.
“I promise” is also not desirable. Actions speak louder than words. The more you promise the worse for you. Promises can build magic palaces, but they ruin them more quickly.