The first step to becoming a good communicator with your partner is to know about your own communication style. As a second step, it is also important to be aware of the communication style your partner is using. This chapter will give you insights into different personal and culturally based communication styles. We are sure you will be able to find yourself and your partner in some of the described cases.
personal communication styles
Generally speaking, there are 3 major styles of communication.
One way of saying something is to use very direct wording and a loud tone of voice. Gestures are fast and sharp, words are coming in a very bold, almost demanding way. The information is conveyed directly, honestly, without whitewashing, but people on the receiving end feel often defensive, hurt, afraid, or also tend to get aggressive. This style is called the Aggressive Style.
The second style of expression is all about pleasing others and avoiding conflict. It is a very apologetic and soft style. In general, apologising, even for irrelevant things, is normal. While people using this style are usually great listeners, people on the receiving end might often feel frustrated or guilty. This way of talking is called the Submissive Style or the Passive Style.
The third style, called the Assertive Style, is all about sending out messages without hurting the people involved in the conversation. The core value behind this style is protection of one owns rights, and respect of other's rights. It is the healthiest and most effective style of communication. Assertive communicators speak clearly and calmly, do not try to manipulate others and they can be taken at their word. People on the receiving end know where they stand with that person.
4th and 5th style mentioned and shortly explained?
In general, the assertive style is the most desirable communication style and the one you should try using with your partner. Adjusting to it might be a long process and it often involves the reversing of habits that have been learned in a lifetime.
Try our exercise (Exercise 1) and see if you can find out how to communicate assertively or have a look at this short clip which will help you to adjust your way of communicating:
cultural communication styles
One very important point to improve the communication skills between you and your partner is to be aware of the cultural differences between the two of you. Prejudices or other barriers are often not the reason for bad communication it is the ignorance, the lack of understanding of the other person's culture and the influence it has on the style of communication. Being aware of the differences in communication styles between the culture of your partner and your own culture might be a first step out of your struggles.
One of the great experts in the field of intercultural communication, Geert Hofstede, calls communication styles the "software" of communication. The way we communicate depends on where we were born and raised, how we saw other people around us communicating growing up and the norms of the society we have been exposed to in our formative years. In other words, it depends on our culture. Hofstede emphasizes three steps to successful, nonviolent intercultural communication:
Now, together with your partner, take a look at the following exercise and try to find out your own culturally based communication styles. Read through the different styles presented. In which group do you find yourself and in which group do you see your partner? Discuss how these different communication styles might influence your relationship. (Exercise 2)
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