1. Recognise that, generally speaking, men and women have different communication styles: This is partly due to different wiring in their brains. Hence, women are wired to remember details and bring up everything when discussing an issue. However, men find this completely overwhelming and prefer to stick to the topic being discussed. They’re usually drained by moaning sessions – which other female friends will almost always enjoy.
2: Don’t bury everything – be real about your feelings: Most relationships are better if you’re honest and real. That is, you don’t become resentful if you say what’s on your mind. Also, you keep things in proportion as they’re dealt with early on. This builds a sense of trust because you feel you can be you – and not just pretend that everything’s always OK.
3. Communicate in a way that’s not accusatory or blaming: This requires
(i) Listening well to the other person (reflect back the content of what they’ve just shared, and the emotions attached to it).
(ii) Speaking in terms of facts. For example, “I feel bad when you arrange something with your friends (fact) without telling me (fact).
(iii) Remembering to include something you appreciate about your partner. As a general rule, any negative comment should be sandwiched between two positive ones.
(iv) Reframe complaints as requests. For example, you could say something like “If I pick up the cinema tickets will you sort out the meal?”
(v) Shift from attack to wonder. Rather than jumping to conclusions and attacking your partner (eg, “You always/ you never …”), say something like (“I wonder if there’s a better way to deal with this … What do you think would help?”)
4. Remember that both partners need to feel as if they’re getting what they want (at least to some degree) for the relationship to work: One well-known writer on relationships summarises the skills for this as follows:
(i) Ask for what you want. It’s a fact that most people don’t directly ask for what they want as they don’t expect to get it. But that leaves the other person assuming and guessing.
(ii) Give your partner what you want from them (model it). For example, if you want them to be interested in your day, ask about their day.
(iii) Learn to negotiate. All good relationships involve both give and take.
(iv) Learn to be flexible and adaptable – It’s not only and always about you. (But nor is it always and only about them).