Communication & Decision Making

Relationships are a two-way street. Just as you need to be treated with respect, so do other people. The same things that make you feel upset and lousy probably make others feel the same way. Communication is essential to a healthy relationship as are making the right decisions.

How to communicate in a relationship

Exploring and expressing your own thoughts and feelings is an excellent start, but you should also:

  • Take responsibility for your feelings, thoughts and actions.
  • Rephrase your feelings if you think you are being misunderstood.
  • Ask for more information when you are not sure what was said.
  • Ask your partner to listen to you.
  • Listen to and respect your partner's thoughts and feelings even if they are different from your own.
  • Be positive.

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Communication will not work when you...

Criticize - Criticizing the actions of others is not an effective way to communicate - think about it, would you rather someone say - "Why would you have done that. That's stupid" or "I'd really like to talk about why you did that"

Place Blame - Finger pointing and blaming never makes anyone feel good; it can also put people on the defensive, which is a sure way to stop the flow of communication.

Are Defensive - Being defensive means that when someone says something you automatically act as though you are being attacked; your thought process turns into how to defend yourself from accusations and away from confidently explaining your views and exploring why others feel you are to be blamed.

Jump to Conclusions -Automatically making assumptions can be very harmful, and lead to placing blame.

Interrupt - This can lead to people not being able to fully express themselves and can lead to misinterpreted messages and ineffective communication.

Use Labels - Labelling people or activities can separate people and make them feel that they belong to the wrong group.

Ignore Other's Beliefs and Values - Everyone has different opinions and beliefs on certain subjects, but they should be respected and acknowledged, just as your own beliefs and values should be respected.

If you need to discuss an important issue with someone, pick a time to bring up the topic when you and the individual involved are going to be able to sit down and talk about it effectively and not be restricted because of time limits or locations.

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Things to consider when making decisions

You will come across many times in your life when you will need to make important decisions. Here are some things to keep in mind:

  • Trust your values and beliefs and stick to them; they are right for you.
  • Be responsible to yourself by making your decisions ahead of time.
  • Evaluate your views, opinions and responses carefully to see where you're coming from.
  • Do not dismiss your own opinions in favour of new ideas from others.
  • Think it over - give yourself time to assess and consider each situation.
  • Evaluate all possible solutions.
  • Pay attention to how your feelings change.
  • Get to know yourself and learn about the things that make you feel good or not so good. This will help you to feel more confident about your own decisions and less threatened by others' opinions.
  • Remember, only you are responsible for your decisions.

Be assertive; stick up for what you believe is right for you.

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