Accepting differences, maintaining respect, and seeking clarity are fundamental pillars for mediating conflicts and cultivating free-flowing and safe dialogue in your relationships.
Gloria Hurtado Castañeda
Psychologist, practitioner at Coomeva Private Healthcare
Juan Carlos Posada Mejía
Clinical psychologist and gestalt therapist
A misunderstanding, such as forgetting the agreed time to meet or what the other wanted to do over the weekend may make you question whether you have good communication with your partner. But what determines whether it is adequate or not? “Is it a matter of us agreeing and doing the same thing? To do what I want? Or to learn to listen? The first thing we must understand is that as a couple we will never be “one.” We are two and not the same,” comments psychologist Gloria Hurtado Castañeda.
In this way, the basis for good understanding is listening and accepting differences. It is not a matter of always living in agreement, but of respecting disagreement. “I am not going to live with someone to change my personality. And I cannot wait for the other to change in order for me to feel good. A couple’s relationship should not eliminate individuality. It is not a matter of handling equality, but of accepting differences,” states the psychologist.
When conflicts arise
“Yelling and knee-jerk reactions arise from the impotence of not having been able to convince the other of what I believe and want. There is conflict because we could not reach an agreement. There are ways to achieve balance and compensation,” states Hurtado, who also emphasizes that tolerance and respect should be the guiding themes.
Likewise, each couple has its own world and it is a particular case. It is also a learning process. “We are human; there are no absolute truths. Communication is about trust, but no one guarantees unconditionality, as unexpected situations can arise that you learn from. It is coping with the fact that we are human, that life goes on, and that we all make mistakes,” states Hurtado.
Conflicts are innate, a reality of life, and therefore they are in relationships too. They are not necessarily unhealthy. Above all, they require respect.
Identifying good communication
As psychologist and couples’ therapist Juan Carlos Posada Mejía states, living together as a couple is the art of dialogue. “A relationship persists as long as it maintains excellent levels of communication. And what does the couple talk about? They need to create a culture of talking about everything,” he states.
- There is emotional communication. “Despite the time, do we keep on talking to each other with love? This needs to continue, even during conflicts,” states psychologist Juan Carlos Posada Mejía.
- It is assertive. This implies that it is free of fears, precautions, anguish, or anxiety. “A phrase you often hear: ‘I can’t talk to him/her anymore,’” comments Posada Mejía.
- It is also effective. It requires clarity and consistency to avoid misunderstandings, without distortion. “Let what I think be congruent with what I say and what they understood,” states the clinical psychologist.
- There are times for dialogue. Create an official space each week to talk as a couple, truly dedicated to this, without social media, cell phones, or other distractions.
- It leaves room for difficult conversations. Sometimes, complex issues or situations arise that also need to be discussed. Here, tolerating frustration is important.
- Conflicts are managed. It is fundamental to consider the other as a valid interlocutor to give credibility to their feelings and that they can express themselves without interruptions. “Different from not giving importance to what he says or being ready to criticize him,” adds Juan Carlos Posada Mejía.
- There are deep and meaningful conversations, different from a long time without them. The clinical psychologist comments that “daily and superficial conversations are changing, but the transcendental ones must also be maintained.”
- Respect prevails. Communication deteriorates with rudeness. “When I feel irritable and I answer abruptly, loving, effective, and assertive communication is lost. This also happens when I have been keeping a lot of things inside that I have not been able to express and I prefer to tell others,” concludes the psychologist.