5 Tips to Give Combatitive Communication a One-Two Punch

Last weekend, I was fortunate to be visiting one of my best friends, Jacqueline, in her (relatively) new city, Chicago! It was such a beautiful trip, but the most valuable takeaways for me were far from the delicious food, beautiful neighborhoods, and incredible shoreline of this eclectic city.

And it couldn't have come at a better time. Before I had left, my partner and I just had a heated argument - worse than ever before - in which we were both guilty of using some choice words and treating each other terribly disrespectfully. Our argument continued into the morning and tarnished the entire day that I departed - the morning conversation ended with an "I'm out of here. Find your own f***ing way to the airport!" I put on the tough face and yelled back, "I WILL!" as he stormed out the door to go to work, followed by me fighting back tears the whole way to work and deciding that I should definitely move out once I get back from Chicago, because this exchange had to be the end of our relationship. After all, I had never spoken to, or been spoken to by a significant other in that way before.

For the most part, my past relationships had merely skimmed the surface of this level of seriousness and magnitude, since I have never lived with a boyfriend before now and, in the past, I would hold my feelings in and keep them to myself to avoid the risk of rocking the boat or upsetting anyone. But gone are those days, and now I'm learning to face the realities. Things aren't always sunshine & rainbows, but with a couple tweaks in communication, they can look a hell of a lot closer to that than a dark stormy raging sky. I'm not saying that this type of language is excusable to be exchanged, because it's not, and we both acknowledged our regret for saying those things shortly after we did, but I want to share this experience in its most raw form because I know so many of us go through similar things. 

Spending time with Jacqueline & her partnerJack in Chicago, I was in awe of the communication they share. I asked her to share with me a few simple tips for seamless communication and approaching conflict in a constructive way.

1. Mutually Decide To Drop It - One of the most impressive things I saw while I was spending time with my favorite friend-couple was an argument that escalated a bit concerning bus schedules and trust in whether one partner trusted the other in figuring out when and where the buses would come. We all know on the surface this seems like a silly argument, but it could've escalated into something larger - especially when one partner felt like they were being mistrusted. I literally almost cringed as it got to a certain point in their conversation since, in my relationship, I knew how it would've been handled. I was beyond shocked when they both just stopped, and one said "It's fine, I've dropped it." The other confirmed that they were "dropping it" and things went about normally. I can't explain to you in words how powerful that exchange was for me, and it definitely made me reflect on how I've been handling situations in my relationships and why I was making it so complicated when it could be THAT simple. 

2. "I appreciate you" - tell your partner that you appreciate them in a specific way - what exactly do you appreciate? You can use this to express gratitude for their personal characteristics, specific actions, or general concepts. No one likes to feel unappreciated, and when these things aren't consistently and frequently expressed, partners can feel undervalued or disrespected, or worse, not loved. Avoid those undesirable outcomes by expressing to each other how much you appreciate the little things they do, as well as the big things. I've definitely gone wrong here in the past, and am now making a conscious effort to let my partner know how much I appreciate him and for what specifically I appreciate him for. When applied to the Law of Attraction, you'll get more of what you focus on - so if you focus on how much you appreciate your partner, they will return the good vibes. 

3. "It's important to me that…" - Instead of falling into the trap of the classic "you never …" or "you always…" phrases, replace those with "It's important to me that…" If memory serves, this one was used in Jacqueline & Jack's relationship in relation to re-potting plants. He hadn't done it as soon as she would have liked, so she simply confronted the situation by saying "It's really important to me that you re-pot these plants today." And he said okay - because he wants to make her happy! Often times, we don't realize that our partners really do want to make us happy - so if we are able to give them clear direction on how to do that in a way that doesn't put them on the defensive, it's more likely that they will oblige our request.

4. Choose Your Battles - Some arguments are definitely worth having. Others just aren't! If one partner says they want you to do something differently, it's totally valid to just apologize for your wrongdoing and say that you will work on it in the future instead of providing 100 excuses for why, then turning it around on them (something I'm guilty of in my relationship). Taking the blame is an excusable choice, and allows you to choose the arguments you feel are worthy of engaging in. You should strive to be this person for your partner, and they for you. 

5. Create Progress Together - Jacqueline told me that another thing they do is "focus on progress and productivity. If we are arguing and it starts to become unproductive, we usually stop and state that it's unproductive so we avoid hurting each other's feelings or name-calling or comparing ourselves, all things that are unproductive" I love this one! I think it's really helpful, and in order to actually do this, you're calling yourselves out. The ability to use this tool also requires that you have a discussion up front about how you want to communicate with each other and requires that you are willing to focus on improvement together in general. 

I hope that these tips help you to radically improve your communication with your significant others, friends, and family members. Setting up boundaries and having the conversations that I've mentioned above are sure to lead to better communication, as long as you stick to it!

Go on… be impeccable with your words!

Love & Light, 

Emily