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Effective Communication & Problem Solving in Love and Relationships

Effective Communication and Problems solving in Love and Relationships

By Julie A. Holgate, MS., LPC

It’s that time of year again where we celebrate the sometimes welcomed and sometimes dreaded Valentine’s Day.  No matter which category you fall into, this can be a time of reflection on yourself and all of your relationships.  There are three simple ways to evaluate your relationships by thinking about the following:

  1. Am I openly communicating my needs to others?
  2. Are my needs met and cared for by others’ close to me?
  3. Am I considering the needs of others in my life when I speak or act?

The questions asked above fall into a category of someone who is not only practicing good self-awareness, but behaving in a healthy assertive manner towards others.  The most productive way to have a shared perspective in relationships is productive communication.  Communication is not merely blurting out the first thought or feeling that you are having, because what we know is that often times the things we say are driven by emotions (e.g Anger, sadness, frustration).

Emotional communication can sometimes lead us astray.  That’s why we often hear friends and family members recommend that you “sleep on it,” or “give it some time before making a decision.”  The act and purpose of these statements is to give you time to calm down and not speak or act out of extreme emotion.  Often times when we do this we are able to see that either our problems are not a bad as they seem, or that they are bad and we are able to communicate more effectively once we have quelled the extreme emotional reactions.

Communication in relationships allows us an awesome advantage of knowing what our partner, friend, or family is feeling and thinking.  When solving any life problem, it is important that we have all the information before we are able to solve the issue most productively.  Shouldn’t we give our loved ones the same courtesy as we would a math or work problem?  Often times, conflicts at home are not approached with openness and honest reflection.  Human nature often leads us to use our defense mechanism to protect our feelings even in situations where we can acknowledge our own wrong-doing.

Acknowledging our wrong-doing and saying we’re sorry means swallowing our pride.  Let’s be honest; for even the most level-headed, self-aware people, this can be hard to do.  If we are unwilling to look at ourselves and our own roles in relationships, how will we ever change?  How will we ever grow?

Let your gift this Valentine’s Day be strength of character, and consideration for you own needs and the needs of those around you.  Learning and practicing this skill daily can lead us towards healthier communication and more effective problem-solving in our Love and Relationships.

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