Category Archives: Blog

A Little More Conversation: Relationship Communication Tips

 

You’ve probably heard people say before that no  is perfect; that no matter how compatible two individuals are, behind every lasting couple is a large amount of hard work.  Possibly the most important kind of ‘hard work’ that gets done in good relationships is quality communication.

Author Fyodor Dostoyevsky once remarked that “much unhappiness has come into the world because of bewilderment and things left unsaid”.  Similarly, a 2013 study examining which interpersonal skills were most predictive of romantic relationship success found communication to be the most significant predictor examined; that is, communication skills were more important in relationship maintenance than were conflict resolution skills, knowledge of one’s partner, life skills, self management, sex and romance, and stress management.

In some ways, we’re more connected now than ever before . The ubiquity of social media, email, and text messaging has created a world in which our loved ones are constantly reachable at the press of a button; as a result, many people would likely argue that communication isn’t an issue in their relationships.  However, some argue that quality is more important than quantity in determining relationship success: if we can’t communicate about the tough stuff and the heavy stuff, we may as well not be communicating at all.  We live in an interesting time, romantically speaking: divorce rates are high, people are getting married at a later age, and social media and the internet have made meeting potential partners almost as easy as going grocery shopping.  The lucky among us will find people with whom they want to spend their time long-term, but even perfect couples can run into stumbling blocks when it comes to communication.

So what is a well-meaning couple to do if quality communication seems awkward, embarrassing, daunting, or simply impossible? Luckily, psychologists have been studying this very subject for many years, and a few significant findings exist that just might be of use in your love life:

Stay positive: A 2006 study found that the more positively spouses reacted to each other’s good news, the better their relationships tended to fare over time. This advice is fairly intuitive: if you act positive and happy most of the time (and especially in relation to the events transpiring in your partner’s life), your relationship is more likely to have an overall positive tone.  Of course, this doesn’t mean that you have to act like Pollyanna when you feel like crying (honesty, after all, is another important facet of partner communication); it simply means that erring on the side of positivity is generally a healthy relationship communication tactic.

Listen first, talk second: When your partner is telling a story, expressing a point of view, or explaining something to you, try not to be forming your next rebuttal while they’re speaking.  Listening with your complete attention is one of the most important relationship communication skills – after all, it’s pretty easy to tell when somebody is waiting for their turn to talk rather than listening.  If you love your partner, you should value what they have to say equally or more than you value what you have to say.

Argue smarter: Contrary to popular opinion, it’s okay to fight or argue in your relationship – in fact, conflict can actually be a good sign that you’re addressing issues rather than burying them. When you find yourself in a dispute, though, there are a few ways to ensure the conversation goes as productively as possible. A good way to convey that you understand what your partner is trying to communicate is to repeat back what they’ve said to you, but paraphrased. For example, if your girlfriend has just finished a five-minute rant about your laziness around the house, try replying something like “I get that you feel like I haven’t been pulling my weight”. You don’t have to agree with her, but simply acknowledging that you understand her point of view can go a long way.

Make time for each other: We all lead busy lives, and especially if you and your partner have children or have different schedules, quality time together can often fall by the wayside.  Notice when this happens, and communicate to each other that you want to plan to spend an evening doing something fun together or just enjoying each other’s company. Remembering why you fell for your partner in the first place (and telling them that you remember) can be powerful.

Share your feelings: This one might sound obvious, but it may not be for some people: it’s important to tell your partner what you’re feeling, both when those feelings are positive and when they’re tougher to express.  Tell your partner when you’re having a good time spending the day with them; equally, tell your partner when you’re feeling down.  Your romantic partner should be the person who is most privy to your feelings, mainly because they are likely going to be the person most able to augment the good emotions and alleviate the pain of the bad.  Of course, you don’t have to tell them literally everything that passes through your head, but sharing how you feel can go a long way towards building a sense of connection and safety.

No buts allowed: Try to avoid the word ‘but’ when arguing or apologizing – as in “I’m sorry, but…”. This tiny word is a powerful weapon that, whether used intentionally or unintentionally, does wonders to undermine the level of respect you’re conveying towards your partner.

Whether you’re married, dating, or single, it’s important to gain a quality understanding of relationship communication skills and to continue building on your existing skills over time. Love isn’t always easy, but most of us would likely agree: the work is worth it.

If you would like to learn more about effective communication for your relationship, contact us for an appointment.  

 

 

How Survive Edmonton Job Loss or Uncertainty

5 Ways to Survive Job Loss or Uncertainty in Edmonton – by Mallory Becker, R. Psych.

 

Let’s face it – the job market in the land once known for its high paying jobs, opportunity for advancement, where people would flock to from far and wide currently sucks. It is dismal at best in Edmonton and Alberta. The poor job market came out of nowhere with many people unprepared, and it seems like those who took a pay cut to do the work of 2 other people are the ‘lucky.’  While many things are out of our control, there are some things we can do to increase our chances of survival – as it will (eventually) get better.

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  1. Plan Ahead

I’m not saying you need to be collecting bottles in all your spare time, but organizing can help. The issue with many people in Alberta is that we don’t have a rainy day fund, and we don’t do a good job at being prepared. Keep an eye on the job market, make a budget (use a helpful tool such as mint.com), and make sure your resume is ready to go. Get in touch with a headhunter to get pointers about your presentation to employer and get in touch with another job market.

  1. Manage Your Anxiety

There are so many people around us that feel uncertainty and insecurity can be transferred others. The job climate, coupled with a lack of control is the perfect recipe for anxiety. It is always easier to cope with a job loss when you all ready have coping tools. Most people who seek out counseling for crisis, or to “put out fires” often require more sessions and have a longer recovery than those who come to acquire life coping skills. Either way we are here to help, but if you have benefits, use them to inoculate yourself. This way if you loose your job, you can spend your time searching for a new position rather than being debilitated by fear and overwhelming emotions.

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  1. Network, Network, Network

Many people are worried to “use” the people they are connected to for job prospects. I understand the frustration family and friends have when people only come to them when they are out of a job, rather than discussing opportunities coming out of proactive and mutual 2-way conversation. Talk to your friends and family about their workplaces including potential opportunities, and attend networking opportunities (such an Edmonton Business Association lunch and learn or ask someone on LinkedIn you have similar interests to have coffee). If there is a company you have always been interested in, set up a time to meet up and learn more about the company including potential future opportunities. Remember, 80-85% of jobs are not advertised.

  1. Define Your Brand

Many people in the job market have a difficult time because of the “I’ll take what I can get mentality.” It is very important to get to know your strengths and weakness so you can have a clear sense of what you can bring to a company. It can also be helpful to work with a career counselor (which is a service we provide) or a business mentor to help you focus your brand. A focused brand also demonstrates confidence, which is a trait highly correlated to trust.

  1. Balance

The people who experience the most distress after a job loss often spend too much time and focus on work. They live to work, rather than work to live. This is very unhealthy and can lead to many physical, psychological and relationship issues

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Make sure you are spending time with your family, friends, hobbies, volunteering, fitness and personal development. A well-rounded person also looks better on paper and in a job interview. The more interests you have, the higher the probability you will have something in common with the individuals hiring you.

 

In the event of a job loss, or if you feel it may be coming – we can help. Avoid having the stress boil over onto your loved ones. We can work on gaining more self-awareness for your personal brand, discuss job-searching strategies, and learn tools to deal with stress and anxiety.