How to make a relationship work when you have different communication styles

Communication is often cited as the cornerstone of a healthy and thriving relationship. It’s the means by which we connect, understand, and support one another. But what happens when you and your partner have different communication styles? While it can present challenges, it’s entirely possible to bridge the gap and create a strong and loving bond.

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Here’s how:

1. Recognise and accept differences

The first step to making your relationship work with differing communication styles is to recognise and accept these differences. Understand that no two people communicate in exactly the same way. It’s okay to be different; in fact, these differences can bring richness and depth to your relationship.

2. Open and honest communication

Start with the most fundamental aspect of communication: talking openly and honestly with your partner about your differing styles. Share your preferences and concerns without blame or judgment. Let them do the same. This open dialogue is the foundation for understanding and compromise.

3. Active listening

Develop active listening skills. This means not only hearing your partner’s words but also trying to understand their perspective, feelings, and needs. Ask questions for clarity and validate their emotions, even if you don’t necessarily agree with them.

4. Empathy and compassion

Empathy and compassion are vital when dealing with differing communication styles. Put yourself in your partner’s shoes and try to see the situation from their point of view. This can help diffuse potential conflicts and foster understanding.

5. Seek compromise

Compromise is key when communication styles clash. Find middle ground where both of you can feel comfortable. For example, if one of you prefers to discuss issues immediately and the other needs time to process, agree on a timeframe for addressing concerns that respects both styles.

6. Learn each other’s language

Understanding your partner’s “communication language” is essential. Are they more visual, auditory, or kinesthetic in their communication? Tailor your messages to their preferred style. If they’re visual, use diagrams or pictures to explain; if they’re auditory, talk things through; if they’re kinesthetic, use touch or physical gestures to convey your feelings.

7. Patience and tolerance

Patience is crucial when dealing with different communication styles. Recognise that it may take time to adjust and that misunderstandings can occur. Stay tolerant and forgiving as you both work through these challenges.

8. Develop a shared communication style

While it’s important to honour individual styles, consider developing a shared communication style that works for both of you. This can involve specific strategies like scheduled check-ins or using “I” statements to express feelings.

9. Use humor to diffuse tension

Sometimes, humor can be an excellent tool for diffusing tension when communication styles clash. A well-timed joke or lighthearted comment can break the ice and remind you both not to take things too seriously.

10. Seek professional help if needed

If your differences in communication styles become a persistent source of conflict and tension, don’t hesitate to seek the assistance of a couples’ therapist or counselor. They can provide valuable insights and techniques to navigate these challenges effectively.

Remember that a successful relationship is built on mutual respect, love and the willingness to adapt and grow together. Embracing and accommodating different communication styles can ultimately strengthen your bond and create a more resilient and harmonious partnership.