Couples Communication: Learn Each Other's Styles

Posted Mar 18, 2019

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Summary

Understanding each other’s styles and learning to adapt your own can help ward off conflict.

Clashing communication styles can cause problems in relationships. These differences may be rooted in age, sex, upbringing, and your culture. That doesn’t mean you can’t change, however. Understanding each other’s styles and learning to adapt your own can help ward off conflict.

Direct versus indirect

The person with a direct communication style gets right to the point. She asks for what she needs. For example, “I want you to be home for dinner from now on.” Indirect communicators don’t ask directly. They might say, “The neighbors have dinner together every night. Isn’t that nice?”

Both types of communication styles can cause problems. Direct communicators can come across as demanding or blunt. Indirect communicators are more likely to be misunderstood. They tend to be vague in saying what they mean.

What to do: Couples with these two different styles can learn to meet near the middle. A direct speaker might soften requests and statements. The other partner can learn to be more direct. A good middle ground for both might be, “I value our time together. Will you try to get home in time for dinner so we can eat as a family?”

Collaborative versus goal-oriented

The collaborative partner sees conversation as a way to connect. The goal-oriented partner uses it to give information, solve problems, and show expertise. The former tends to ask for others’ opinions before making a decision. The latter might think through the problem privately. Then she might make up her own mind about it.

These two communication styles in a relationship can cause hurt and frustration. The collaborative partner enjoys talking as a way to feel closer. He may feel shut out by the other’s silence. He may feel left out of decision making. The goal-oriented partner may feel his partner is indecisive. He may not have the patience for lots of talk.

What to do: Talk with each other about your different styles. The collaborative partner should recognize the other’s need for information. He can leave out unnecessary details and get to the point sooner. The goal-oriented partner should include the other in decisions. She might also share more about her days and talk about what’s on her mind 

Hot versus cold

This refers more to styles of dealing with conflict, rather than relating. But it certainly can cause strife in a relationship. One partner wants to deal with conflict right away. The other wants time to collect her thoughts or cool off. The partner who wants to resolve the issue at once is likely to feel rejected. The other partner feels attacked.

What to do: Talk with one another about what underlies your conflict styles. The partner with the “hot” conflict style may feel anxious when a dispute goes unresolved. The one with the “cold” conflict style may feel anxious when arguments become heated. You might agree on a short time-out. Both partners should speak calmly and take turns listening to each other. 

Remember, there is no one right way to communicate. A key to feeling understood and supported in a relationship is to learn each other’s communication styles. That will allow both of you to make adjustments and speak each other’s language.  

By Sharron Luttrell, Military OneSource. Used with permission.

Summary

Understanding each other’s styles and learning to adapt your own can help ward off conflict.

Clashing communication styles can cause problems in relationships. These differences may be rooted in age, sex, upbringing, and your culture. That doesn’t mean you can’t change, however. Understanding each other’s styles and learning to adapt your own can help ward off conflict.

Direct versus indirect

The person with a direct communication style gets right to the point. She asks for what she needs. For example, “I want you to be home for dinner from now on.” Indirect communicators don’t ask directly. They might say, “The neighbors have dinner together every night. Isn’t that nice?”

Both types of communication styles can cause problems. Direct communicators can come across as demanding or blunt. Indirect communicators are more likely to be misunderstood. They tend to be vague in saying what they mean.

What to do: Couples with these two different styles can learn to meet near the middle. A direct speaker might soften requests and statements. The other partner can learn to be more direct. A good middle ground for both might be, “I value our time together. Will you try to get home in time for dinner so we can eat as a family?”

Collaborative versus goal-oriented

The collaborative partner sees conversation as a way to connect. The goal-oriented partner uses it to give information, solve problems, and show expertise. The former tends to ask for others’ opinions before making a decision. The latter might think through the problem privately. Then she might make up her own mind about it.

These two communication styles in a relationship can cause hurt and frustration. The collaborative partner enjoys talking as a way to feel closer. He may feel shut out by the other’s silence. He may feel left out of decision making. The goal-oriented partner may feel his partner is indecisive. He may not have the patience for lots of talk.

What to do: Talk with each other about your different styles. The collaborative partner should recognize the other’s need for information. He can leave out unnecessary details and get to the point sooner. The goal-oriented partner should include the other in decisions. She might also share more about her days and talk about what’s on her mind 

Hot versus cold

This refers more to styles of dealing with conflict, rather than relating. But it certainly can cause strife in a relationship. One partner wants to deal with conflict right away. The other wants time to collect her thoughts or cool off. The partner who wants to resolve the issue at once is likely to feel rejected. The other partner feels attacked.

What to do: Talk with one another about what underlies your conflict styles. The partner with the “hot” conflict style may feel anxious when a dispute goes unresolved. The one with the “cold” conflict style may feel anxious when arguments become heated. You might agree on a short time-out. Both partners should speak calmly and take turns listening to each other. 

Remember, there is no one right way to communicate. A key to feeling understood and supported in a relationship is to learn each other’s communication styles. That will allow both of you to make adjustments and speak each other’s language.  

By Sharron Luttrell, Military OneSource. Used with permission.

Summary

Understanding each other’s styles and learning to adapt your own can help ward off conflict.

Clashing communication styles can cause problems in relationships. These differences may be rooted in age, sex, upbringing, and your culture. That doesn’t mean you can’t change, however. Understanding each other’s styles and learning to adapt your own can help ward off conflict.

Direct versus indirect

The person with a direct communication style gets right to the point. She asks for what she needs. For example, “I want you to be home for dinner from now on.” Indirect communicators don’t ask directly. They might say, “The neighbors have dinner together every night. Isn’t that nice?”

Both types of communication styles can cause problems. Direct communicators can come across as demanding or blunt. Indirect communicators are more likely to be misunderstood. They tend to be vague in saying what they mean.

What to do: Couples with these two different styles can learn to meet near the middle. A direct speaker might soften requests and statements. The other partner can learn to be more direct. A good middle ground for both might be, “I value our time together. Will you try to get home in time for dinner so we can eat as a family?”

Collaborative versus goal-oriented

The collaborative partner sees conversation as a way to connect. The goal-oriented partner uses it to give information, solve problems, and show expertise. The former tends to ask for others’ opinions before making a decision. The latter might think through the problem privately. Then she might make up her own mind about it.

These two communication styles in a relationship can cause hurt and frustration. The collaborative partner enjoys talking as a way to feel closer. He may feel shut out by the other’s silence. He may feel left out of decision making. The goal-oriented partner may feel his partner is indecisive. He may not have the patience for lots of talk.

What to do: Talk with each other about your different styles. The collaborative partner should recognize the other’s need for information. He can leave out unnecessary details and get to the point sooner. The goal-oriented partner should include the other in decisions. She might also share more about her days and talk about what’s on her mind 

Hot versus cold

This refers more to styles of dealing with conflict, rather than relating. But it certainly can cause strife in a relationship. One partner wants to deal with conflict right away. The other wants time to collect her thoughts or cool off. The partner who wants to resolve the issue at once is likely to feel rejected. The other partner feels attacked.

What to do: Talk with one another about what underlies your conflict styles. The partner with the “hot” conflict style may feel anxious when a dispute goes unresolved. The one with the “cold” conflict style may feel anxious when arguments become heated. You might agree on a short time-out. Both partners should speak calmly and take turns listening to each other. 

Remember, there is no one right way to communicate. A key to feeling understood and supported in a relationship is to learn each other’s communication styles. That will allow both of you to make adjustments and speak each other’s language.  

By Sharron Luttrell, Military OneSource. Used with permission.

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