How many times have you been misunderstood in a conversation?
Simple conversation suddenly becomes heated argument and it seems as if the person you are talking to has a completely different point of view. We have all been there.
But now imagine this scenario:
- instead of talking face to face, two people are typing on social media
- instead of their mother tongue, they might be speaking the only common language for them, maybe english (and neither one of them is an expert in that language)
Now brace yourselves and add to the picture:
- some cultural differences
- different time zones
- add little sister entering the room, jumping around asking for attention in the middle of their conversation
- add internet connection failures
And there you have a possible never-ending frustration when it comes to solving an argument.
Long distance relationships are challenging, and that is why communication skills are one of the most, if not the most important skill you want to develop. Here you will find several steps and techniques for solving communication issues. Developing those skills takes practice and time, but in the long run, it’s so much worth it!
Take alone time and write down your thoughts and important points you want to cover, before actually talking to your partner
When you are in the heat of the moment, it is very difficult to talk rationally and have an objective point of view. It’s always good idea to make peace with your partner soon after the argument is over (“don’t go to bed angry”) but don’t go deeper into the subject the same day. Allow yourself to process the situation, and understand what the real motive of that particular argument was. Once you have a clear idea of what it was, you can then bring it up to your partner the next day, when both of you are calm.
Set specific time when you can talk with no distractions
If it’s an option for you, the best way to solve misunderstanding is by seeing your partner’s facial expressions and body language. Set specific time only for Skype, and make sure that both of you have enough privacy and time to talk (remember the little sister interrupting in crucial moments of discussion?) Also set approximate duration for your conversation. It can be very tiring sometimes, so let’s say one hour would be reasonable. Anything longer then that would only mean going into circles, repeating the same thing over and over again.
You can always set another time for the same topic another day.
Use ”I’’ statements instead of accusing your partner
There is usually no point in trying to prove your partner wrong. Concentrate on your own feelings and express how you feel, without making your partner feel guilty. Remember, nobody is intentionally making you feel upset, and both of you are in the same team.
So, instead of saying: “You never have time to talk with me anymore these days” (notice “you” statement and unnecessary drama using the word “never”) try saying “I am feeling lonely these days. I know that you’re working overtime, but it would mean a lot to me, if we could have half an hour a day, just to check in with each other (notice “I” statement, appreciating your partner’s work, and finally offering a solution).
Be honest and talk from your heart
This might seem a little too obvious, but remember that sometimes we tend to get into defense-mode, and pretend to be stronger, smarter, most capable… Do not be afraid to show your vulnerability to your partner. If you need to cry, do it. Showing your deepest emotions and truths can be scary, but it can build strong confidence and trust between partners, and allow other person to know you so much better, and therefor understand you in more profound way. At the end, isn’t solving miscommunication about better knowing one another?
Ask your partner to repeat your statements to make sure he/she fully understands your point of view
From time to time, just stop to check if both of you are on the same page. Literally tell him/her what you think they are saying. Then ask them to try to express your point of view. You would be surprised how many times we believe that we are being understood, to then find out that the other person just heard our words completely upside-down. Practice this simple technique, and with time, it will seem as if you read each other’s minds.
Few months ago I was having a small discussion with my boyfriend. We could not speak on microphone or use camera, so we ended up typing fast and furious, keyboards clicking loudly, trying to write the same speed as if we were speaking. At one moment, he wrote something that opened my eyes.
He wrote : “If I was to only read what you just wrote, I would have taken it so wrong! But when I read your words, I imagine your voice and the way you are saying it, and that’s why I know what you were actually trying to tell me.” I went back to reading my words again, and realized it didn’t come out the way I wanted it, but he understood me. He knew better then me what I was trying to communicate.
Talk about possible solutions and concentrate on one issue at the time
As you approach the end of your discussion, keep in mind the most important aspects. It’s not about figuring out who was wrong, but figuring out how to ‘fix’ things. Offer solutions and hear your partner out. When in the middle of the conversation, it is tempting to bring out more then one issue, but try to stay focused. Concentrate on one topic at the time, and point out simple steps that will allow both of you to improve.
Relationships take time, and you have to be patient enough until you learn to “fine tune” with your partner. Have open conversations and be willing to grow together. Being in long distance relationship already makes you a strong couple. Practice these steps to make your relationship even stronger.
Good luck, and thanks for reading!