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Dating Safe: Communication Skills are Key to Developing Healthy Relationships

Category: 
Social Change

“In a healthy relationship, communication is key. When you communicate effectively, you understand your partner better and make your relationship stronger. When you can resolve conflicts successfully, you are developing a healthy, mature relationship.”[1]

Understanding communication skills, conflict resolution and emotional intelligence is key in supporting the development of healthy relationships. Often, because of societal pressures and gender stereotypes, young people are not encouraged to express their emotions. This can mean they do not develop the emotional literacy which helps them to identify their feelings and express them in a healthy, assertive and productive way.

Why are Communication Skills Important?

By understanding and expressing your own emotions, you can better use assertive communication to express your needs and boundaries in an effective and productive way[2]. This is key in relationships as you may need to have conversations around how your partner made you feel and why. If you can articulate those feelings, you can better resolve conflicts.

Emotional Intelligence

Emotional intelligence requires three key skills;[3]

  1. The ability to be aware of and identify your emotions,
  2. the ability to use your emotions and apply them to tasks, and
  3. the ability to manage your emotions and support others to do the same

Conflict Resolution

“It’s important to remember that angry people are often people who can’t communicate effectively… Unfortunately, an angry response to criticism is likely to trigger even more anger and criticism from the other person rather than problem-solving communication.”[4]

Healthy communication and effective conflict resolution requires communicating without becoming angry or agitated.[5]

When people are unable to identify their emotions, they may turn to anger, they may suppress their feelings if they are uncomfortable sharing their emotions, they may also completely shutdown. This can be an extremely stressful situation and can require support in determining what emotion they are actually feeling and why.

There are many ways to regulate your emotions, including:

  • Getting adequate sleep.
  • Getting adequate exercise.
  • Taking care of yourself when physically ill.
  • When we feel angry, looking for the feelings underneath anger, and possibly expressing these feelings.
  • Talking with our friends about both challenging and positive experiences.
  • Writing about our experiences and emotions in a journal.
  • Daily meditation as well as deep breathing in stressful situations.
  • Seeking resources, supports and possibly counselling.

Next Week

Keep an eye on the blog next week to learn more about building consent culture and the importance of every day consent.

[2] A person who is assertive clearly communicates their wishes and sets boundaries, but does not make demands of other people or lash out if requests are not met. The ability to be assertive allows someone to make overtures to other people and stand up for themselves or others in a nonaggressive way.

https://www.psychologytoday.com/ca/basics/assertiveness#:~:text=A%20person%20who%20is%20assertive,others%20in%20a%20nonaggressive%20way.

[4] Mckay, Fanning, & Paleg, 2000, p. 153-154

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