You may have heard before that communication is an important key to any relationship. While this takes many forms, there is nothing better than an honest, productive conversation with your partner.
Unfortunately, many couples fail when it comes to the dialogue that gets passed back and forth between them. Why? Because they don’t consider dialogue to be an art form—which it most certainly is.
Like any other artistic medium, it takes practice and patience to get dialogue right. Some people have an easier time learning the required skills than others; we all have learned behaviors and habits that can help or hurt your communication.
So, what are the keys to learning the art of dialogue? And how can they benefit your relationship?
1. Show Respect
Dialogue is about so much more than just talking. It’s about the way you speak and the way you listen. Whenever you’re having a dialogue with someone—especially your partner—it’s important to show respect.
Even if you disagree with what they say or you’re in the middle of an argument, you can still demonstrate respect for your partner and their beliefs and opinions.
By recognizing their point(s) as valid and acknowledging the way they feel, you’re showing them that you value their thoughts, whether you agree with them or not. Simply being respectful can also help to diffuse arguments quickly. Plus, it can make everyday conversations much more pleasant and productive.
2. Ask the Right Questions
Be curious in your conversations. By asking open questions, you will further an effective dialogue and show your partner you’re interested in what they have to say. Questions also show them that you are actively listening.
Of course, your questions shouldn’t just be for your partner’s sake. Take them to heart. Let them help you to learn more about the situation. Use them with an open mind to fully understand your partner’s perspective. When you suspend your assumptions before the dialogue begins and ask questions to fill in any gaps, you might develop a new opinion. At the very least, you’ll gain more insight into the way your partner feels.
Asking questions can also help you to better understand your own thoughts and opinions. You can take your partner’s answers to your questions with you into a time of reflection. Speaking of which, that’s another important key to learning the art of dialogue.
3. Be Reflective
Part of practicing effective dialogue is being able to come into a conversation knowing that you might not be right. Open yourself up and be vulnerable with your partner. Get familiar with “being wrong” and let that be okay sometimes.
When you’re not having a conversation with your partner, take the time to reflect on the things you talked about. Though dialogue is a two-person activity, part of it can (and should) be done on your own.
Your reflection time should consist of curiosity. Why does your partner feel the way they do? What can you do to better understand their feelings? And why do you feel the way you do? Do you have a bias that you’ve been carrying for years or beliefs that cannot be changed?
When you interpret what your partner is thinking/feeling, you will have an easier time going into another conversation. You may even find that you change your own thoughts and feelings as you reflect on things.
The art of dialogue takes practice. Don’t expect your conversations with your partner to change overnight. But by keeping the three keys in mind, you can absolutely succeed where most couples fail.
If you want to learn more about the art of dialogue or how to effectively communicate in your relationship, please feel free to contact me.