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Alcohol and Mental Health

8 Ways To Improve Communication in Your Relationships

July 27, 2023
8 min read
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Written by
Reframe Content Team
A team of researchers and psychologists who specialize in behavioral health and neuroscience. This group collaborates to produce insightful and evidence-based content.
July 27, 2023
8 min read
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Certified recovery coach specialized in helping everyone redefine their relationship with alcohol. His approach in coaching focuses on habit formation and addressing the stress in our lives.
July 27, 2023
8 min read
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Recognized by Fortune and Fast Company as a top innovator shaping the future of health and known for his pivotal role in helping individuals change their relationship with alcohol.
July 27, 2023
8 min read
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Reframe Content Team
July 27, 2023
8 min read

You’re about to receive feedback from a new supervisor at work. Your previous supervisor was quick to berate you and point out all of your shortcomings, so you remain defensive as you enter the meeting. However, you’re surprised to find that this new supervisor is completely different. They listen to your concerns, empathize with your struggles, and clearly voice where you can improve without being degrading or disrespectful. This new supervisor demonstrates healthy communication patterns, which, when employed regularly, have the power to transform the way we interact with others. 

In a similar way, communication in marriage, with family members, and with friends is a vital aspect of our quality of life and overall well-being. Why is communication important in a relationship? Healthy, effective communication in relationships allows us to understand each other deeply and provide mutual support. The significance of this increases when we're navigating major lifestyle shifts.

Learning how to communicate in a relationship, developing healthy communication skills within our social groups, and finding ways to communicate effectively at work are all skills that have the power to transform our lives. Let’s explore eight scientifically proven ways to enhance communication in relationships, aiding our journey towards healthier habits.

1. Practice Active Listening

If we want to learn how to communicate effectively and learn how to communicate in a relationship, it all starts with listening. Listening goes beyond merely remaining silent when another person is talking. Active listening is about fully concentrating, understanding, responding, and then remembering what's being said. It sends a powerful message to the speaker that we value their words and are keenly interested in their thoughts and feelings. Communication in marriage thrives on active listening: making sure that our partner knows they’re being listened to is key for the relationship to be successful.

How To Improve: Instead of formulating our response as the person is still talking, we should wait until they’ve said their piece to share our thoughts. Not only does this convey basic respect, but it also shows that we care about their opinions and feelings.

2. Engage in Clear and Concise Messaging

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The saying “less is more” often rings true in healthy communication — it’s one of the best ways to communicate effectively. According to studies, brief and unambiguous messages are generally more impactful and less prone to misinterpretation. 

How To Improve: For instance, when discussing our decision to reduce our alcohol consumption, we might instinctively say, “I’ll probably drink a little less tonight” when our friends ask. Instead, however, we should say, “I’ll only be having one drink tonight, but I’ll bring mocktails we can all share.” By laying our intentions out clearly, we also protect ourselves from potential future awkwardness or resentment.

8 ways to enhance communication in relationship

3. Focus on Nonverbal Communication

Our facial expressions, body language, and even the tone of our voice play substantial roles in how our messages are perceived and in learning how  to communicate effectively. Research indicates that these nonverbal cues significantly influence communication. Making sure that our body language aligns with our spoken words is essential for effective and healthy communication. 

How To Improve: If we want to be seen as assertive, for instance, we should keep an open posture and maintain eye contact when speaking. 

4. Exhibit Emotional Intelligence

Emotional intelligence (the ability to identify, understand, and manage our own emotions and those of others) is a potent communication tool. Research shows that people with higher emotional intelligence enjoy improved interpersonal communication, leading to healthier, more fulfilling relationships. 

How To Improve: We can increase our emotional intelligence by regularly reflecting on our feelings, trying to see things from others’ perspectives, and asking others to clarify when we don’t quite understand what they’re trying to say.

5. Maintain an Open Mind

Open-mindedness, or the willingness to consider others' perspectives, is a critical factor in effective communication. Studies reveal that open-minded people are better communicators, more understanding, and more likely to reach amicable resolutions during disputes. Letting go of rigidity can help us come to healthy compromises, which deepens trust and respect in our relationships. 

How To Improve: Consider alternatives for scenarios. We may realize that our way isn’t the right way when we put ourselves in others’ shoes. Allow yourself to be flexible and accept that things won’t always go as expected — and that’s okay. 

6. Be Assertive

Expressing our thoughts and feelings in a respectful yet firm manner is another crucial aspect of communication. Assertiveness can lead to better relationship satisfaction, lower anxiety, and reduced likelihood of depression

How To Improve: When we speak our minds, we avoid much of the discomfort and frustration that comes with people-pleasing and undermining our own needs. Being assertive doesn’t mean being cruel or dominating. It instead requires that we take ownership of our needs and feelings by using “I” statements and speaking up when something feels off. 

7. Cultivate Empathy

By placing ourselves in someone else's shoes, we can foster a deeper understanding and stronger connections. Evidence suggests that empathy can significantly boost communication in relationships. When we show others that we see them and feel their struggles, they’re more willing to continue trusting and confiding in us. This can open the door to deeper, more meaningful relationships. 

How To Improve: Practice compassion in your daily interactions, always considering the emotions and circumstances of others before reacting or making judgments. For example, if a colleague is rude or irritable, we can consider why. Perhaps they’re dealing with issues at home or just received unpleasant medical news. 

8. Check in Regularly

Finally, establishing a habit of regular check-ins or intentional, open discussions about our feelings and experiences can keep communication lines clear and open. When we do this, we remove any of the guesswork about how others are doing, and we can get a better idea of how to support each other. 

How To Improve: Reach out to loved ones regularly. Instead of waiting around for friends and relatives to text us first, we can take the initiative and check in.

Unleashing the Power of Positive Communication in Relationships

The quest towards adopting healthier habits, such as revising our drinking practices, isn't a solitary mission. It's a shared endeavor that heavily leans on the encouragement, understanding, and unyielding support of our friends, family, and mentors. These pillars of our journey can be effectively established only through compassionate communication, the transformative tool that morphs our everyday discussions into significant exchanges, turning routine dialogues into powerful moments of mutual understanding and connection.

In our exploration, we've pinpointed eight strategic approaches that can dramatically improve these daily exchanges. These tools can be vital in enhancing the quality of our interactions, paving the way for a more empathetic and supportive environment where everyone feels acknowledged and appreciated. 

So, as we ambitiously stride towards our goal of healthier drinking habits, let's pledge to fill our communication with more care and understanding. This not only propels us towards our health objectives, but also fosters deeper, more meaningful relationships with those who matter the most to us. Here's to embracing compassion in our lives and our exchanges!

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At Reframe, we do science, not stigma. We base our articles on the latest peer-reviewed research in psychology, neuroscience, and behavioral science. We follow the Reframe Content Creation Guidelines, to ensure that we share accurate and actionable information with our readers. This aids them in making informed decisions on their wellness journey.
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