Competing in communication comes in many forms. Whether it is interrupting to get your point across, vying to get the last word or contesting semantics to make the other person wrong. No matter the pursuit, competing leads to a winner and a loser. If you are always winning, that could mean your partner is suffering. To avoid competing in communication put these three tips into practice.

Shift your thoughts from “me” to “we”

Literally, slow down and think to yourself “we are a team.” Re-frame your thinking from “me” being right or angry, to what “we” can accomplish when cooler words prevail. When you put communication in the context of “we” it can build trust and create a sense of unity.

If you just cannot resist competing, focus the urge in a healthier direction. Try this, rate yourself on a scale of 1-10, 10 being perfect, in each of the following areas: being patient, being attentive, and using supportive language. Then, think of one thing that could improve each area by .25 if you started doing it more often. After you come up with some ideas, pick a single area and practice that one improvement daily.

Control your emotions

It is normal to feel emotional when discussing sensitive matters or anything you are invested in. However, being “hijacked” by your emotions can derail deeper communication.  Controlling your emotions can create a safe space to be vulnerable and minimize frustration. Ask for time to respond, whether that be a minute or day. It can help you avoid saying something you regret, while preserving a healthy environment to communicate.

Communicate your needs

Real feelings, have real needs. Aim to express the need associated to the feeling. For example, we tend to say things like, “you spend too much time on social media.” This is an  effort to express a need for more attention. Instead, this can create a debate about where time is spent. While your observation may be legitimate, shift the conversation from keeping score, to fulfilling the need.

Be more direct by saying, “I feel like I need more attention from you.” Steer clear of judgments and have a couple ideas for what “more attention” looks like. It can help guide the conversation that follows.

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