Written by therapist Bria McCalpin
As the majority of us know, communication is a part of any relationship and sometimes it can be difficult to communicate with others, especially with partners. However, it is important to know there will always be ups and downs as communication is a skill that can be worked on as time goes on. Communication is impactful and can make or break relationships, so it is important for individuals to learn how to communicate well. When you do not communicate clearly, it can lead to misunderstandings, disagreements, and unfilled needs. Open and transparent communication will help build a higher level of trust and intimacy, as well as a solid understanding of expectations in your relationships.
We must start somewhere, so in this blog, I will share some exercises for you to build your verbal and nonverbal communication skills within your relationships.
This is a nonverbal activity with eye contact. With no distractions and in a quiet space, you and your partner will sit facing each other. Set a timer and maintain eye contact for 5 minutes, without looking away. You will pay attention to your thoughts and feelings during these minutes. At the end of this activity, you and your partner should talk about what this experience was like for you, as well as what thoughts came up for each of you.
Music and Lyrics
This exercise concentrates on verbal communication, where you and your partner will use music to express yourself. The both of you will choose three songs that you relate to. You will share with one another each song and lyrics from these songs. The goal is to understand why particular songs are meaningful for you, what feelings may pop up while listening to them or reading the lyrics, and any memories that were evoked by these songs during this exercise.
Listening without Words
This activity focuses on both verbal and nonverbal communication. Here, one of you will be the speaker and the other will be the listener. Set a timer for 3-5 minutes and during the allotted time, the speaker will share what they are thinking and feeling without being interrupted. The listener will use nonverbal communication with their body language to show they are listening, understanding what you are saying, and urging you to continue. Examples of these body language include nodding/shaking head, leaning closer, or maintaining eye contact. When the timer goes off, you and your partner will process any observations, ask questions to help you better understand, and mention any comments that come up.
Again, communication is important in relationships. It’s never too late to practice exercises to promote positive communication skills. If you are interested in learning more activities or building your communication, I encourage you to reach out to Optimum Joy and connect with one of our therapists. We would happily support you in honing in on this skill.