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The Do's and Don'ts of Communication

Two people talking over coffee

Have you ever heard the phrase, "Communication is key"? It's probably the bread and butter of any relationship, romantic or not. We all learn how to communicate based on our experiences growing up, and the cultures we live in. Sometimes when we communicate with others, we can have miscommunication because we learned how to interpret things differently. Today, communication can be even more difficult than it ever was before because there are far more distractions, like social media. I've created a list of Do's and Don'ts to help keep communication more manageable.


  • Look at the person when you are talking. I know that sometimes culturally it can be rude to look at someone in the eyes when you are communicating, but if you are talking to someone who is from an American culture, it's actually rude not to look at someone when you are talking. It gives the impression that they are not listening.

  • Put down your phone when you are talking. If you have your phone in your hands, it also gives the impression that you are not listening or that you are doing something that is more important than the other person.

  • Use reflective listening. This is when you restate what the other person has said in your own words. This is helpful when the other person doesn't think you understand them. Once they feel that you do understand, you can share your thoughts on the issue.

  • Use "I" statements. I know - they are so annoying. But when you focus on yourself rather than the other person, they are more open to listening and less defensive. Take responsibility for your feelings instead of blaming the other person. If you are able to do this, chances are they will accept responsibility as well.

  • Focus on the problem, not the person. When you begin to turn the issue on the person by insulting them, the conversation is no longer productive. Pause if this begins to happen.

  • Apologize. If you messed up, say you are sorry. If you aren't sorry for what you did, you can at least apologize for hurting the other person's feelings.


  • Communicate when you are angry. It's tempting to hash out the argument so that you can have an end; however, if you continue to communicate when you are angry, you won't really get a resolution. You're focused too much on making your point, that you aren't really hearing what the other person's point is.

  • Yell, blame, accuse, name call, or use sarcasm. This will always end badly. This also applies to those of you who practice passive aggressiveness.

  • Walk out and forget to finish the discussion later. If you need a break because you are angry, I encourage you to leave. But I also encourage you to finish the conversation. Otherwise, it won't get resolved, and the feelings will follow you in your next argument.

  • Focus on the disagreement. It is normal to disagree. If you cannot find a common ground where you can compromise, can you work towards a resolution? Agree to disagree?

  • Hold in your emotions. If you ignore them and say nothing, they will creep up when you least expect them to and make another conversation more intense than it needs to be. If you are upset or bothered by something someone you care about has said, reach out to them to talk about it. If you don't, it will interfere with your relationship and connection.

  • Forget to include those closest to you in your life. If something big has happened, and they have to hear about it from someone else, this is very hurtful. The people in your life are in it because they care. They want to know the things that go on, even if you don't think the things that go on are important enough to share.

Above all, make sure you make time to communicate. We get so busy in life, we forget our priorities and often times relationships get pushed to the bottom. When we do this to our relationships, we can get pretty lonely and sad. If you are having trouble communicating, and these tips didn't quite get you what you needed, please consider making an appointment with a therapist so that you can improve your communication and your relationships.

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