Creating A Healthy Communication Environment
One important reason to have a conversation about Healthy Communication is to give you the information you need to create an environment in which your partner feels safe and comfortable expressing him or herself to you. One of the primary reasons many couples have communication problems in their relationship is a lack of safety; the fear that expression will result in negativity, anger, resentment, or abandonment. Lack of expression often leads to resentment and discontent, and ultimately to the end of what could be a great partnership.
What Is A healthy communication environment?
A healthy communication environment simply means that both people feel free and safe to express their thoughts, opinions, and emotions, without fear of lasting negative reactions or of being hurt or punished for that expression. Having an open conversation about healthy communication allows you to understand your partner’s needs, as well as to share your own. The environment you can create together is one that allows a relationship to grow and thrive; the ability to openly express what we think and how we feel, while being validated and understood, creates the desire to continue to share and learn. Continual learning helps relationships from becoming stagnant, and allows two people to grow together while supporting each other as individuals. Open communication in a healthy environment is the best way to build, fortify, and maintain any relationship.
It is possible – though unhealthy – for open communication to exist without a healthy environment. Most violent relationships exist within this dynamic, as do many abusive relationships. If the environment is not safe, yet one or both of the partners are aggressive enough to express themselves without fear of negative repercussions, arguments without positive resolution are highly likely. Our fear of negative reactions indicates a certain amount of respect for our partner, if we do not care that what we say or do will affect him or her in a negative way, we also will not care if we hurt them in other ways.
When It is a balanced dynamic; there must be some fear that indicates respect and caring for our partner’s feelings, but not so much fear that a healthy environment cannot be created to allow for two-way open communication. If you find yourself in a relationship in which one of you freely expresses thoughts or emotions without concern for the others reaction, it would be wise to either seek professional help or remove yourself from that relationship.
In any healthy relationship, it is normal – even healthy – to experience some level of discomfort when thinking about, or preparing to, share anything with your partner that you feel may hurt him or her, he or she could react negatively to. This discomfort, or fear, is what drives us to protect both our partners and ourselves. It is also avoidance of this discomfort that drives us to create an environment in which we know that the information we share will not be highly detrimental to our relationship but lack any effectiveness.
Creating a healthy environment for healthy communication requires both people in the relationship to be open, empathetic, and to have a desire to have a healthy and enjoyable relationship. Beginning with a conversation, and including your desire to have excellent communication, is often the best way to start. However, there are times that one partner will need to start first by making it safe for his or her partner to communicate in order to start the process.
There are only a few primary focuses for a healthy environment for communication: How you express yourself, how you accept your partners’ expression, and how your communication styles work together. In addition to the basic focuses, each couple will have individual barricades that need to be addressed. These obstacles will likely have something to do with your and your partners’ past experiences, and could include past abuse or habits formed from past dysfunctional communication relationships.
It’s a good idea to note, for both yourself and your mate, issues regarding communication that you have had in the past. These notes can be used by both of you to build understanding and empathy for each other, and referenced when communication is failing.
The primary focuses can be broken down into smaller bits that are easier to examine and change, including word choice, body language, physical and verbal reaction, and mutual respect and acknowledgement.