University of Southern California

Healthy Relationships

Effective Communication

Effective Communication

Effective communication may be the key to long-term success in a relationship, and good communication takes practice. Some things to remember when striving for open communication are:

  • Thinking before speaking
  • Open-mindedness
  • Active listening
  • Willingness to be wrong

Effective communication involves not only talking about problems and conflicts as they arise, but also encouraging one another when things are going well. Problems are best dealt with as soon as possible. If they are left unresolved, resentments can build up and tensions increase. It is crucial, however, to choose an appropriate time to discuss conflicts – a time when both parties are receptive, and not, for example, when one is trying to go to sleep, or when one is at the peak of anger. It is also important to understand that effective communication cannot take place in an atmosphere of fear and intimidation.

In order to communicate assertively, you must have respect for the other person’s feelings and point of view, even if you don’t agree. You must also be a good listener – empathizing with the other person, letting them finish talking without interrupting them, and reflecting back what you are hearing from them, which is known as active listening.