Building Healthy Communication in Friendships
Author: Kadi, 21
We get told that communication is very important in relationships, but we are rarely taught how this plays out. It’s an essential part of the human experience but I’ve noticed that it's very critical in friendships. I have too many stories of friendships where communicating a situation has gone wrong, yet we’re left to our own devices to figure it out through trial and error.
I wish there was much earlier intervention in this area on how to begin a healthy conversation after a fallout out argument. People are coming into school from all walks of life, some have never seen what healthy communication looks like in their own homes and run from it or react to it in a way that can be detrimental. I want to share five tips on ways to navigate healthy communication in friendships from my own experience so far at 21.
1. Speak to someone you trust about the situation at hand: This can be a friend, family member or therapist. TIP: don't turn it into Chinese whispers, just one person should be enough.
2. Roleplay with a trusted person: 'Act out' the situation that you have at hand with a trusted person to ensure you're going into the situation the right way. No, you're not playing a character, I would see it as a smart way to ensure you're going into the situation with the right energy beforehand. TIP: If you can't come into the situation with your defences down and genuinely ready to talk it out, then I'd advise to leave it for another time or it could get messier. I've been in situations where discussions have gone completely wrong because the energy brought to the table was not helpful.
3. Take responsibility for your part: Be ready to admit when you're wrong. I know your ego and pride is hurting, let it hurt because sometimes we make mistakes and don't want to be seen as bad or wrong. Healthy communication also means admitting when you're wrong, you get much more respect when you can get to that place.
4. Quit the blame game and listen to each other: If we’re not careful, most of the time we’re playing a tug of war and not really listening to each other. Try to understand where the other person is coming from and vice versa, that way you're able to have more empathy for each other. We don't always have the same perspective, so quit the blame game and listen to each other.
5. Move Forward: Try and find the best way to reconnect and move the relationship forward. This helps so that you don’t end up in that place again, or at least you will know how to navigate the situation better and quicker next time. Most importantly, remember that this takes everyone involved. If this is one-sided, it's going to be very difficult to take these steps.
I’m no expert but this is something I’m learning and have noticed in my relationships currently, but I don’t always get it right. I’m hoping to get better at it and that these tips can be useful for others to improve their communication. This is something we’ll be perfecting for the rest of our lives. Don’t beat yourself up if you get it wrong. Sit with it, apologise and try again.