Communication can make or break a relationship. Without honest and open communication, many relationships fail whilst hurting those involved, though often we don’t really understand how to communicate. We certainly haven’t been taught in any official capacity, unless we have actively sought communication assistance. For those who find communication a struggle, here are some tips for how to talk about your feelings and emotions more responsibly.

1. Say What You Mean and Mean What You Say

We are socialised to avoid explicit expressions of feelings, emotions, needs, wants and desires. From a young age, many of us have been taught that we must be “polite”, which means we don’t often say what we mean. This can result in passive aggression, or even outright aggression. Simply stating what you want or need is a good way to start off a conversation, particularly about uncomfortable feelings. If you find yourself feeling jealous about time or needs being met, it is usually most productive to simply say so. If your other responds negatively, ask them to listen and respect your feelings.

2. Avoid the Silent Treatment

People often use silent treatment as a way of communication, but this approach will certainly derail you, others and the relationship. By ignoring or stonewalling your partner you isolate yourself, allowing resentment and anger to fester. If you need time alone, then say so explicitly. Trying to change another persons behaviour by ignoring them only perpetuates a nasty game and creates tension.

3. Take Responsibility for Your Emotions

It can be easy to believe that we feel a certain way because of something that someone else did. But mostly, this isn’t the case. If you feel sad, angry, jealous, resentful, or pissed off, then own that feeling. Rather than believing that the other has “made” you feel this way, know that these feelings have been inside all along and simply been triggered. By stating your feelings, it allows for an exploration of what is going on for you, often resulting in deepened understanding and intimacy.

4. Always Be Respectful

Attacking your partner is never ever productive, nor acceptable. Being disrespectful will most often shut the person down and cause them to retreat into defense. This does not bode well for communication and breeds resentment. If you find yourself wanting to attack the other, then say so, and take some time out. Practicing some deep breathing, or even safe and cathartic expression on your own allows you to create more space for understanding and better self expression.

5. Don’t Punish With Blame

Playing the blame game will undoubtedly end in pain for all parties. Even if you feel strongly that the other person deserves blame, it’s important to reassess your beliefs. More than that, by overtly blaming the other, you shut down any productive communication and cause them to feel like they have to defend themselves.

Communication can be difficult in all relationships, so don’t be too hard on yourself if you don’t always get it right. Allowing for yourself and your partner to be human can create more ease and space within the relationship. If you find that you are stuck or struggling too much with communication, perhaps professional help is required. Whatever you choose to do, always respect yourself and your others to create more intimate relationships.