You've probably heard it time and time again -- communication is key. While you might think you're careful and transparent with your words, your romantic partner might interpret what you say entirely different than how you intended it. That begs the question, do you and your partner have conflicting communication styles?
There are two main universal communication styles
Two primary communication styles exist -- inferential and literal communication. An inferential communicator likes to infer, guess, speculate, conclude, or judge based on the information that they put together. If you're an inferential listener, you read between the lines of what someone is saying, and you never take anything at face value. Challenges arise for inferential communicators when they look for meaning in communication that may or may not be there. Rather than saying things directly and clearly, inferential speakers tend to give subtle clues or suggestions.
Literal communicators, on the other hand, take people's words at face value. They tend to clearly and directly ask for things. Subtle suggestions may go over their heads, and they might miss "inside jokes" or sarcasm. Literal communicators also struggle when words aren't clear -- they may end up feeling confused or frustrated. If you're a literal listener, you might be labeled as insensitive and inconsiderate.
Each communication style has specific types of listening and speaking. It's possible to be one type of speaker and a different type of listener. The sooner you discover your communication styles and your partner's, the sooner you can begin bridging communication gaps.
How can you communicate better?
When it comes to improving communication in a relationship, it's the little things that make a huge difference. Here's how you can make your communication skills a lot better:
- Check in daily. Ask your partner how their day is going or how they're doing. This will not only keep you in touch and sync, but it'll open up communication between you two.
- Don't mind read. This one might be difficult for inferential communicators. Try not to read your partner's mind -- this will lead to misunderstandings and hurt feelings. Don't assume that you know what they're thinking.
- Actively listen. Communication isn't just about talking. It's also about listening. Actually listen to what your partner says rather than get defensive.
- Be positive. Improving communication requires a positive attitude. Don't approach problems as though you can't solve them.
- Respond. If your partner is reaching out to you, be there to provide support. Moments like these are an opportunity to connect with your partner.
- Express gratitude. A fantastic way to build intimacy is to express gratitude for something thoughtful your partner did that day.
Improving communication doesn't have to involve significant, in-depth conversations. Most of it is all about maintaining the little things, like checking in with each other daily.
- "15 Ways to Improve Communication in Your Relationship," Bustle, May 22, 2017.
- "How These 2 Types of Communication Styles Can Make or Break Your Relationship," Your Tango, March 1, 2019.