Learning how to communicate better is essential in a relationship. Good communication is the key to any healthy relationship.
However, many couples don't consciously think about this and communicate in a wrong way, eventually the relationship ends up due to the continuous harms.
Many people blame their partner for how they feel, without communicate effectively to solve the problems and fulfill needs. In my previous article emotional needs I explained there are 3 emotional needs must fulfill in order to have a healthy long-term relationship, and how one emotional need influences another emotional need.
However, that is view from context perspective. In real communication, there are many different needs involve in it. The more needs you satisfy, the more effective the communication is. Many people don't truly understand the nature of our needs, that's why they communicate ineffectively and never lead the communication to the desirable outcome.
Once you understand how you both feel, and you both needs, you can communicate better and avoid miscommunication.
I've been failed in communicating my needs clearly and requesting what I want effectively, this made my previous relationship stunted and failed eventually. After trial and error of communicating my needs with my current girlfriend, I could outline 4 steps to better communication and avoid any type of miscommunication.
4 steps to communicate better and avoid any type of miscommunication
1. Observing exactly what is disturbing you.
First thing first. You want to know what is disturbing you.
People tend to evaluate their partner when conflicts happen without understanding the situation. For example, people evaluate their partner - She didn't respect me, she was being insensitive, she was being selfish and so on. Evaluate a person without observing what actually happened will make you blur about the core problem so you can't communicate on the issue and lead to a desirable outcome.
What you should do is observe and pinpoint exactly what she did and when she did it instead of evaluating her behavior. For example, my girlfriend made a decision without asking my permission or opinion last night. The thing that I observed is she made a decision herself, but that doesn't mean she is disrespecting me. I can't evaluate that she didn't respect me merely based on what was observed.
So don't evaluate her behavior but observe her behavior. Followed by the observation, you will know about your feelings and understand your needs. So you know exactly what action she can take to satisfy your needs.
You can't communicate effectively until you know what's the kind of certain result that you want.
2. Defining your feelings.
After observing exactly what is disturbing you, you should define your feelings. This step is really an important step because many people don't define their feelings and chances are this is where the communication started misleading.
Many people seem to think that when they are upset about something, it's OK to say mean things to their partner and ridiculously they think their partner is just supposed to console them and make them feel better.
It's really not a smart move. A lot of people think their partner should understand them and knows their feelings. But hey, she is not you, she can't feel exactly the same like how you are feeling. It's your responsible to let her know your feelings specifically.
You want to be specific when you're letting her know your feelings. In my previous article practical tips to long-term relationship, I said being empathic is important for her to feel a connection with you. When you feel there's something disturbing you, and she knows exactly your feelings, you will feel emotional attraction.
If you want a relationship which is based on honesty and empathy, then you have to be honest and empathic towards yourself. Tell her you are feeling frustrated when you do so, be specific, don't tell her general words like you are feeling bad. Feeling "bad" doesn't convey the message clearly that you are feeling "frustrated".
Here is a list of human emotions. You can define your feelings with the list if you don't know how to describe your feelings.
Here is one thing, if you want to tell her your feelings specifically, you need to understand about yourself.
Don't get it wrong, the point isn't how you feel, it's about your partner's level of understanding. You have to understand yourself so you know how to define your feelings so then you can only let her understand your feelings.
When defining your feelings you should simply describe your feelings, but not her behavior. The examples like "I feel ignored", "I feel like she is cheating on me", "I feel she doesn't love me anymore" and so on are not describing your feelings, but her behavior and your thoughts. I suggest you always view the human emotions list so you can use appropriate adjectives to describe your feelings.
3. Defining your needs.
Many people have been brainwashed by their parents, social influential, and media to believe that they should be fit in with the crowd, they falsely believe that it's wrong to ask people for what we want. But the dilemma is that if you don't let other people know what you need and want, how they know what are you craving?
So, you should be very clear on what you expect from a relationship. Once you observe the circumstances and define your feelings, you can define what you need base on your feelings.
For example, you observe that she always spend time with her own stuffs but neglect spending time with you, and you define that you feel lonely, so you know that to stop the feeling of lonely you want her to spend quality time with you. That is your need, that is what you are craving for. If you don't follow these first two steps - observe without evaluating and define your feelings, it's hard for you to define exactly what your need is.
You should let her know that you want her to finish her stuffs earlier, or delegate them to other people, so she would have leisure time to do activities with you. No one should put his needs aside for his partner, neither you or her. So you should let her know your need, otherwise the relationship will be unhealthy.
Many nice guys would think that they are responsible for their partner's happiness and well-being. So they will sacrifice their own needs for the sake of making her happy. However, this is actually one of the reasons that why nice guys always finish last. In my previous article I said nice guys who are always being nice to women will lost their attraction because they let women certainly know they are into them. You should be mysterious because this will make women interested in you, so then you can turn the interest into attraction.
If you want to do something for your spouse, it should be the pure joy of giving. If you think you are responsible for her happiness, eventually it will lead to resentment, and feeling overwhelmed because you neglect your own emotional need. See: emotional needs to a successful relationship. In my previous article love isn't enough I also mentioned that love doesn't mean it is worth to sacrifice yourself.
So, take a minute to examine your feelings, and realize which need of yours is not being met. If your partner is not meeting one of your needs, that is your responsibility. People have different needs in a number of different life categories.
There are five categories of needs: Emotional, Physical, Spiritual, Social, and Security.
Here are some general needs that you probably are not being met, but please remember that, they are general, so it should be considered as simply a place to start.
EMOTIONAL NEEDS 1. The need to feel, and be told, that you are loved 2. The need to feel, and be told, that you are a valued, vital part of your partner's life 3. The need to feel a sense of belonging to and with your partner 4. The need to feel respected as an individual 5. The need to feel needed for other than the tasks you perform (providing money, cooking, etc.) 6. The need to feel that you are a priority in your partner's life 7. The need to feel special, above everyone else in your partner's life 8. The need to feel that your partner is proud to call you his or her own 9. The need to feel that you are trusted as a responsible partner 10. The need to feel that your partner would choose you again 11. The need to feel that you have and can be forgiven for transgressions and flaws 12. The need to feel accepted, flaws, fallacies, and all 13. The need to feel that you and your partner are, above all else, close and trusted friends 14. The need to feel desired 15. The need to feel appreciated for who and what you are and do 16. The need to feel passion between you and your relationship partner
PHYSICAL NEEDS 1. The need to be touched and caressed 2. The need to be kissed, even if casually 3. The need to be hugged or held 4. The need to feel that you are welcome in your partner's personal space 5. The need to be physically welcomed when encountering your partner 6. The need to feel that you are part of a couple when interacting with the world 7. The need to feel encouraged and welcomed by nonverbal communications 8. The need for tenderness 9. The need for a satisfying and rewarding sexual life
SPIRITUAL NEEDS 1. The need to feel that your personal spiritual values are supported without judgment 2. The need to feel that your partner respects your spiritual needs 3. The need to share a spiritual life, even if that spiritual life is experienced differently by you and your partner 4. The need to know and feel that your individual beliefs and differences are respected, if not shared
SOCIAL NEEDS 1. The need to be remembered with calls and acknowledgments when apart 2. The need to feel that your partner will plan and structure his or her activities to include you 3. The need to feel that social activities are shared rather than experienced individually 4. The need for appropriate tenderness and support when in public 5. The need to be encouraged and supported physically and emotionally when in public 6. The need to hear sweet things in a social environment 7. The need to be encouraged and supported in social situations 8. The need to be treated with politeness and regard in social situations 9. The need to share fun and joy in social situations 10. The need to share a connection expressed through awareness and sensitivity from your partner 11. The need to share joy and laughter 12. The need to feel that you are the most important person in your partner's life and awareness when in a crowded, busy social environment
SECURITY NEEDS 1. The need to know that your partner will stand by you in times of distress or conflict 2. The need to feel that your partner will rally to your aid if needed 3. The need to feel input and control with regard to the emotional aspects of the relationship 4. The need to be supported by your partner 5. The need to know that your partner is loyal and committed 6. The need to know that your relationship will not be put at risk and hang in the balance because of any disagreements and confrontations 7. The need to know that your partner is committed permanently 8. The need to know that your partner is there for you in times of third-party conflicts and problems 9. The need to know that your partner is your soft place to fall
Defining your needs does not only help you to communicate better, but also help to focus all your attention on yourself. So you are listening to yourself and trying to understand yourself. When you understand yourself better, you know what you should improve in yourself.
4. Requesting (Not Demanding) exactly what you need them to do.
After observing what is disturbing you, and defining what are your feelings and needs, you come to an answer that what your partner could do to fulfill your needs. So now you are ready to start communicating with your partner to resolve the conflicts and communication.
As an alpha male, you should be a leader in your relationship. Don't wait for the problem solves itself, or bury the problem and move on with your life. You should take the initial move - request what you need from your partner. It's an important move because your partner wouldn't have known your needs if you don't attempt to let her know, there's nothing to fear, shame or guilt about letting her know your needs.
One of the reasons that many guys feel fear, shame or guilt about requesting their needs is because they are not using the correct way of requesting and most cases lead to resentment and argument. Most guys are not requesting but demanding their needs from their partner. I used to be one of them.
I would use my own experience to explain what is differing from requesting and demanding. The main difference between requesting and demanding is there are no consequences to declining a request. There was a time that I said a thing about I feel happy for gathering with a gang of friends which has only one girl in it, and that girl seemingly likes me.
The reason I feel happy because those male friends are the people I like to hang out with. But she misunderstood that I feel happy because I could go gathering with that girl. So, this made her feel jealous and doesn't want to talk with me. I felt clueless that time because I didn't know what was the reason causing that situation.
So after I used previous 3 steps to observe the situation, define my feelings and needs, I told her that I have no idea what was going on and I needed some clues or explanations. However, she didn't respond to my request, so I turned over and didn't talk to her too, I was trying to make her feel guilt for not responding me.
You guess what? The situation became worse and the miscommunication became more serious. I thought I was requesting but in fact I was demanding.
As just mentioned that the main difference between requesting and demanding is there are no consequences to declining a request. When she didn't respond to my request, I felt confused and lost so I didn't want to care about the issue anymore and tried to make her felt guilty for not responding me. This is why I wasn't requesting but demanding.
In my free ebook Attract women with personal boundaries I explained that everyone has his or her personal boundary and no one has right to invade other's boundary. So I should just respect her decision if she doesn't want to respond to me. Don't get me wrong. I don't mean you can be indifferent if she declines your request. You just need to be patient.
So what's the correct way to request a need from your partner? I have some TIPS to share with you. First, don't start with "you". - "You don't care about me at all", "You don't spend time to accompany me.", "You should care more about me." Instead, start more with "I". - "I feel lonely.", "I feel down". You get the picture.
Second, try to use this formula to requesting from your partner:
When we XXX (the situation), I feel XXX (feelings) because I need more XXX(needs).
For my case above, after I recognized that I was demanding then I used this formula: When you don't speak to me, I feel confused and lost, I don't understand what was going on and I need you to tell me what happened and being empathic with me. So she told me what happened and after explaining to her we become happy like before.
Third, stay calm and empathize with her whenever she declines a request. So you don't react emotionally and she will realize that there are no consequences to declining your requests. So this ensures that even if your request is being declined at least it won't worsen the situation.
The key for the fourth step is you want to make your request be more precise. The reason we want to observe the situation without evaluating, and define your feelings and needs is because we want to communicate better with our partner, we want to let our partner understands our feelings and needs, we don't want miscommunication and misunderstanding. Therefore, be more precise about what you want her to do.
How to understand her needs?
"The hearing that is only in the ears is one thing. The hearing of the understanding is another. But the hearing of the spirit is not limited to any one faculty, to the ear, or to the mind. Hence it demands the emptiness of all the faculties. And when the faculties are empty, then the whole being listens. There is then a direct grasp of what is right there before you that can never be heard with the ear or understood with the mind." -Confucius
This article teaches you how to communicate better by being understood your needs, but to make sure the communication is going smoothly and achieving a mutually acceptable outcome, you should also understand the needs of your partner.
Listening to her is important, however, you should not just listen to her words, but also her feelings and needs. You want to put yourself into her shoes.
Sometimes, when you are arguing with your partner, it's hard to relax yourself and being empathic with her, you tend to fight her back and win the argument. That's why we should learn to observe our ego (which has mentioned in my free book).
We should always observe our ego to guide our behavior, when we control our own behavior, orderly our emotion also will be controlled. We will realize that are we defending or even attacking our partner instead of being empathic with her and listening to her needs, which normally leads to argument and resentment.
At here, we can twist a bit the formula that has just mentioned.
Formula: It looks like you feel XXX (feelings) because you need XXX (needs) when we are XXXing (situation).
For an example - it looks like when you were talking about your family problem, you felt furious because you thought I was not paying attention.
Unless one of you puts aside everything and decides to show empathy, the argument will not end. The method of better communication has four steps:
Observing exactly what is disturbing you.
Defining your feelings.
Defining your needs.
Requesting (Not Demanding) exactly what you need them to do.
Use these four steps wisely you will not only better your communication, but also avoid unnecessary argument and resentment. It's not enough by just reading this article, you need to practice these four steps continually until you can execute them automatically.
You need to understand the fact that, good communication is not an individual work, it involves both parties that want to achieve mutually acceptable outcome intentionally. Therefore, even if you execute these four steps wisely, it doesn't mean things become easy. But I can promise that it's much easier and better than not knowing what you are doing.
Don't rush to achieve an outcome, sometimes, what you need is only being more patient and empathic. These four steps are the only steps you need to know, and I stand behind my words. I hope you get a ton of value from this article.
About the author
Rio Yee is the Founder of WealthyLoveLife and is super passionate about helping people change their mind and take action to improve your important areas in life such as dating & relationships, personal finance and productivity.