Relationships are all around us. We’re surrounded by relationships from our caretakers to our first friendships. Part of the journey of life is to find our social network in whatever form helps us. A close friend may become a romantic partner, family may move miles away and only be connected through social media, but through it all, understanding yourself and building your understanding of others can help maintain that strong bond.
Everybody loves and wants to be loved. Have you heard of the “love languages?” There are 5 Love Languages: words of affirmation, acts of service, receiving gifts, quality time and physical touch. By understanding that there is a possibility of translation error between how you express love and how others receive your love can lead to a better quality relationship not just with your partner, but also all your loved ones. Communication is probably the most important and fundamental key to a healthy relationship but there are also other components.
Everyone has the goal of having a healthy relationship, but one must know what a healthy relationship looks like. Having open, honest, and safe communication serves as the strong basis of any relationship. Along with quality communication, other fundamentals include being able to speak up for your own needs, respect for one another, compromise, providing and receiving support, and also giving space for privacy.
In relationships of all kinds—familial, platonic and romantic alike—conflicts happen. The difference between letting conflicts break the bond or build it is how both parties handle conflict resolution. The American Management Association provided a five-step guideline toward resolution starting with identifying the source of conflict. After looking beyond just the incident (sometimes, perspective is more to blame than the actual event), and identifying possible solutions, the post suggests finding solutions that work for all parties and end on an agreement. This might seem like a simple process, but in the heat of anger, it’s easy to resort to shouting and finger-pointing.
This process works beyond close relationships but truly apply for any sort of interaction, be it work-related or anything involving teamwork. Emotional conflict and finding a resolution also touches on the role of nonverbal communication. Understanding how to navigate conflict can improve your life in all interactions and perhaps bring just a bit more peace and calm.
It’s hard to imagine how something as simple as one word making all the difference but words are powerful. Recognizing the importance of speaking to our own experiences rather than inferring another person’s character can lead to more productive conversations as well as empower ourselves. I-language refers to primarily using “I” when speaking with others and avoid using “you.” So in conflict, this might turn, “You’re so disrespectful for making me wait 30 minutes,” into, “I feel upset when I’m left waiting” or “I am sad when you constantly cancel plans.” The change in perspectives makes the statement less of an attack gets to the true focal point of what you are feeling.
Communication and learning to communicate is what make growth possible. It’s never too late and no one is ever too old to continue building this skill.