If Your Boyfriend Or Girlfriend Is Bad At Communicating, This Is How To Talk To Them About It
You've found someone who you completely click with. Sparks are constantly flying between the two of you, and you feel like this person really gets who you are as a person. The only problem? Your otherwise wonderful boyfriend or girlfriend is bad at communicating. Maybe they're the worst at responding to texts in a timely manner, or maybe they do get back to you quickly, but they can't ever seem to really get their point across. If this sounds familiar, you're not alone. Some people have no problem effectively expressing their thoughts and feelings, while others have a much harder time processing complex emotions and communicating them with others.
"If your significant other is a bad communicator then they may have a difficult time understanding what you are trying to convey when you tell them they are a bad communicator," says Joshua Klapow, Ph.D. clinical psychologist and host of the Kurre and Klapow radio show. "Communication is not just speaking. It is the ability to understand information, to process non-verbal signals the other person is giving, and then take that all in and speak. So if your partner is not a good communicator, they may also not be a great listener."
With that in mind, Dr. Klapow shares his tips for how to talk to your boyfriend or girlfriend about their communication and encourage more effective habits. Here's how to talk to your partner in a way that they'll be able to understand, according to an expert.
1. Be as specific as possible.
When you bring up your concerns about your partner's ineffective or infrequent communication, you want to be as specific as possible. "Do not talk about how they speak or communicate in general. Use specific instances, specific examples, and actual words," says Dr. Klapow.
Using concrete examples of words and actions will help drive your point home. By illustrating to your significant other actual moments where their poor communication affected you, you can help them to better understand where you're coming from and encourage them to make a healthy change.
2. Use recent examples.
You also want to bring up examples that are fresh in both of your minds, and therefore as accurate as possible. Choose moments from the past few days, if possible, rather than dredging up things that irritated you weeks or months earlier. Time tends to blur the facts, and can cause you and your partner to remember events very differently.
"Be as recent as possible," says Dr. Klapow. "Trying to use examples from even a week in the past can bring up conflict if your partner doesn't remember the conversation the way you do. So the more recent the better."
3. Place the focus on your needs.
The way you approach this topic with your partner can make all the difference. Rather than telling your S.O. that they're bad at communicating, focus the discussion around your needs, and express how they could be better met.
"Let them know that if they talk this way, or speak in this tone, or make eye contact that that is very helpful to you," says Dr. Klapow. "Let them believe they are helping you, versus them not doing a great job."
4. If possible, talk face-to-face.
You might prefer to bring the subject up over text, because it feels less stressful. Because you're talking about strong communication, though, telling your partner over text that they need to step up their communication skills is poor communication in itself, according to Dr. Klapow. Like most serious talks, this is a conversation that is better to have in person.
"Text messaging is ripe for miscommunication," says Dr. Klapow. "There are no tonal qualities from a person's voice, no facial or bodily expressions to soften a point or to make it more direct. Call, use a virtual software (Skype, FaceTime), but do not do the communication via text. Talking about communication via text is poor communication."
5. Ask for their feedback.
Finally, ask your boyfriend or girlfriend how they feel about your communication skills. Even if you believe you are a great communicator, communication is a two-way street. "What you think 'works' ... may not for them," says Dr. Klapow. "Let this be about a blending of how you communicate and how they communicate." You want to give your partner an opportunity to address a topic that they may not have ever given much thought to, but one that impacts your joint communication and your overall relationship.
"Communication skills are important, but more importantly in a relationship is the blend of skills between people. Yes, your partner may not have what you see [as] the best skills, but the problem ... is likely driven by the interaction of your communication skills and theirs," says Dr. Klapow. "Finding the right fit with the way you communicate and the way they communicate is critical. This is not a test where one person is necessarily 'right' and the other is 'wrong,' but rather it is a mutual understanding of what works best for each of you and between you in the relationship."
Keep in mind that poor communication in a relationship isn't ever just one person's fault. It takes both you and your partner working together to improve your communication, so be patient and remember that it's a team effort.
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