Communication in Relationships

Why Communication Is The Oxygen
That Keeps Relationships Alive
Daily ‘Check-Ins’ Can Get Couples Talking, Psychologist Says

Married couples should have plenty to say to each other, but research says communication is one of the issues they struggle with most.

Part of the problem may be that communication is a two-way street, requiring both partners to do it well. And some subjects are more ticklish than others to bring up.

“Healthy couple communication is not just about expressing your needs, but also about being an active listener and desiring to understand your partner’s perspective,” says Dr. Anne Brennan Malec, clinical psychologist and marriage and family therapist, and author of the book “Marriage in Modern Life: Why It Works, When It Works.” (

For couples, she says, communication is like oxygen. The relationship needs it to stay alive.

“Couples never come into my office and say, ‘We are talking way too much,’ ” Dr. Malec says. “It is always, ‘We have a problem with communication.’ ”

That rarely means they shut each other out completely, Dr. Malec says. They talk, but often they sidestep what’s really troubling them.

“Couples sometimes avoid difficult conversations and conflict because they fear it will turn ugly,” Dr. Malec says.

She says when it comes to communicating, there are a few traps to watch out for and some effective strategies to employ.

•  Getting passive-aggressive. Some people act out their feelings instead of talking about them. That’s called being passive-aggressive and as a relationship strategy it ranks near the bottom, Dr. Malec says. “You say one thing and do another, or worse, you say nothing but roll your eyes or sigh dramatically,” she says. “This communicates judgment and contempt, which is disrespectful to your partner.”

People usually act passive-aggressively because discussing their thoughts, feelings and opinions makes them uncomfortable or seems too risky. “I see it all the time,” Dr. Malec says. “A partner agrees to do something they have no intention of doing just to get the spouse to stop nagging.” Passive-aggressive habits foster distance between partners so it’s absolutely necessary to replace them with healthier communication strategies to restore the connection.

•  Assuming your partner is psychic. Sometimes spouses don’t communicate their needs or desires because they expect their partner to somehow know. “Expecting your partner to know intuitively what you want without saying it sets your partner up to fail,” Dr. Malec says. “None of us are mind readers.”

It’s far more effective, and people stand a much greater chance of getting their needs met, when they learn to share their thoughts directly.

•  Checking in. Communication often devolves into a heated argument over the family’s latest crisis, or involves the resurrection of old grievances. But communicating should be a way to head off problems instead of causing them, and can be if the right steps are taken, Dr. Malec says. She encourages clients to have at least a 20-minute daily check-in. This is a time to catch up on the day’s events and talk about what’s coming up the next day. “Done right, it can lead to smoother mornings in getting yourselves and the kids out of the house,” Dr. Malec says.

•  Addressing the bigger picture. In addition to short daily check-ins, couples should schedule weekly sessions to discuss bigger-picture items. That might include financial goals, work issues or parenting concerns, Dr. Malec says. Some couples do better if the agenda is set ahead of time. “A spoken agenda works fine for a lot of people,” she says. “But conflict-ridden couples may need a written agenda to stay focused and keep the conversation running smoothly.”

If necessary, use a clock to ensure equal talking time. Partners also can use an object such as a spoon or book that is passed back and forth to indicate whose turn it is to speak. Dr. Malec says that will help keep the couple centered and reduce the likelihood of either partner becoming overheated. Partners are more willing to engage in a conversation if they know they will have a chance to be heard.

“For many of us, our natural instinct is to avoid situations that feel complicated and confrontational,” Dr. Malec says. “But keeping and maintaining a successful marriage depends on learning how to fight the ‘avoidance’ instinct and discuss difficult issues.”

About Dr. Anne Brennan Malec

Dr. Anne Brennan Malec ( is the founder and managing partner of Symmetry Counseling (, a group counseling, coaching and psychotherapy practice in Chicago. She also is author of the book ”Marriage in the Modern Life: Why It Works, When It Works.” Dr. Malec earned her Bachelor’s degree from Villanova University in Accountancy and holds two Master’s degrees: one in Liberal Studies from DePaul University, and one in Marital and Family Therapy from Northwestern University. Dr. Malec earned her Doctoral degree in Clinical Psychology from the Chicago School of Professional Psychology.

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Tips for Effective Communication

3 Tips for Effective Communication
Words are Powerful; Use With Care, Media Expert Notes 

It’s easy to take words for granted; most of us use them as effortlessly as we breathe. But words hold power that we often overlook at our own peril, says media expert Steve Kayser.

“Language is the code that translates ideas so they can be shared. They give us an advantage in the natural world, which has enabled us to evolve as human beings,” says Kayser, author of “The Greatest Words You’ve Never Heard,” (

“But in our personal and public lives, we are inundated with empty words; words that are used incorrectly; words that are drained of all meaning; and so fail to accurately convey the intended message; and words that carry unwarranted connotations and stigma.”

Words can change lives, destroy relationships and alter the course of entire civilizations, Kayser notes.

He shares examples of what to avoid, what to embrace and what to reconsider when trying to make your language more effective. 

•  Avoid John Kerry’s “crystal clear” nugget. Earlier this year, amid the ongoing foreign policy crises in the Middle East, secretary of state John Kerry, who has a linguistic reputation for long-winded political jargon, seemed to contradict himself in a single breath.

“I want to make this crystal clear,” he said. “The president is desirous of trying to see how we can make our best efforts in order to find a way to facilitate.”

It’s this kind of language that makes people cynical about our elected officials – when a politician’s mouth is moving and producing sounds, but he’s not saying anything. Or, if they are saying something, they use words that are overused and unnecessary. Businesses, too, can be notorious for this using corporate gobbledygook to obfuscate all meaning, Kayser says.

“What people want is authenticity in language, to say what you mean and mean what you say.”

•  Emulate Mark Twain, the “straight shooter,” who employed wit, charm and incisive commentary in communications. No, most people cannot pick up where Twain, arguably America’s greatest writer, left off. But language and the way in which it’s used can be highly contagious. If you want to inspire authenticity and engage employees and friends alike with genuine communication, consider styling your speech more along the lines of Twain, rather than a dry business manual:

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do,” Twain wrote. “So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”

•  If you’re in business, there are advantages to embracing the jargon.“Can we blue sky this synergy later?” “Cascade this to your people and see what the pushback is.” … Business lingo could fill a dictionary, and in many cases, requires one! Unlike political babble, business jargon has its purpose, according to a new study from the University of Southern California’s Marshall School of Business. Business speak is code for “upper management material,” showing that the speaker is in a company’s inner circle and is a “big picture” person, the study reveals.

“Some of the language you come across in the business world can seem absurd to outsiders; some of these phrases, however, may actually reveal ambition in an employee,” Kayser says.

“The beauty of language is that it’s a common tool for everyone to use, yet it can be tailored to an individual. My primary suggestion is to do that in a way that authentically reveals your meaning.”  

About Steve Kayser

Steve Kayser is an award-winning writer, editor, publisher, former radio host and founder of Kayser Media. He has had the great fortune to interview and collaborate with some of the best minds in the business world, and his eclectic approach to public relations and marketing has been widely documented. He recently published “The Greatest Words You’ve Never Heard,” ( 

Why Communication Skills are Important, an essay by Ramya

Why Communication Skills are important

As far as life skills are concerned, the importance of being able to communicate effectively cannot be taken lightly. In fact, good communication skills are a vital ingredient in the recipe to success.

While communications skills are definitely significant in the world of business, they also have their advantages in every aspect of one’s personal life. Of course, they are talked about often in the context of business but one can use them to good effect in their personal life too.

Effective communications avoids misunderstandings

Assumptions are a common problem in routine interactions because often people believe that the other person understands what he or she is thinking. However that’s not the case and when opinions clash, it can lead to conflicts. But if you manage to communicate effectively, then you will be able to avoid this problem. Everyone will be in sync and the scope for misunderstandings and conflicts thereby will be drastically reduced.

Good Communication is crucial

Communication skills can be the backbone of personal relationships and they can be used to good effect in business as well. There was a time when people would think of them as soft skills, which managers and executives could possess, but not necessarily. But with the changing business climate they are crucial for just about everyone in professional walk of life. If organizations cannot convey goals, strategies and processes, and struggle with feedback, then they will lose out to other businesses.

You have to understand that communication is not just about writing or talking to a person. It’s about how you write your thoughts down to convey the message, the rhythm, the tone and body language while talking etc. Also, listening is an important element of communication; probably as significant as writing and talking. Today we use different means for communication; from emails to instant messages to other high tech solutions. Irrespective of the format, you should be able to communicate effectively.

Importance in the workplace

We live in times where we see that all job profile descriptions require people to have good communications skills. They have to be effective for the workplace, and many test this during the interview stage. This is an important skill for managers and employees alike. Teamwork and collaboration tends to suffer dramatically without good communications skills, which leads to failure of projects. If one wants to climb up the corporate ladder, then communications skills are the key.

Tools of communication

In today’s organizations a variety of tools are used to be able to communicate with the employees. From staff meetings, email ,newsletters to social networks, video conferences, online discussions and of course traditional conversations; can be used to good effect. Whatever tool is chosen, effective communication boosts employee engagement and motivation. It can thus lead to improved productivity and overall customer satisfaction.

Similarities between life and work

Communications skills are important in professional and personal walks of one’s life. Couples that are able to communicate well often tend to have stronger relationships. At the same time managers that communicate well with their employees manage to keep a healthy work environment. The success of communications skills in both, personal and professional aspects of one’s lives is simple; those who are able to convey their feelings and ideas are less likely to be misunderstood or even bury their emotions for that matter.

Invest in good communications skills

For more success in personal and professional walks of life, one needs to invest in building good communications skills. Those with effective communications skills are often rewarded and considered to be better suited for leadership roles. The payoff goes much beyond the office; in one’s personal life or practically any situation you might find yourself in.

Imagine being stuck in a tricky situation where you see no way out or one where there is a clash of opinions and you can see that it can lead to a conflict. Having communications skills can help you get out of the situation unscathed. You can avoid these problems by being able to convey your thoughts and ideas more clearly. Good communications will ensure that everyone around you is on the same page and there is no room for any misunderstanding.

Job delegation and responsibility assigning; a common occurrence in teams and organizations

For work or projects to be completed satisfactorily, job details have to be passed on effectively. That’s where good communications skills come into the picture and ensure that the job details are passed on clearly. It means the job will be carried out the way it should be.

Thus you can see that communications skills are definitely important for success in one’s personal and professional lives. They are also crucial to maintain harmony and peaceful relationships in all kinds of work related environments.


Author Bio:

I’m Ramya, a freelance web designer/writer based in India.  I have an experience of about 8 years in content writing and have worked for top blogs and websites. I’m generally an extrovert; I like photography, anthropology and traveling to different countries to learn the culture and living of the local inhabitants to do travelogues.



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