Sorting Out What Causes Communication Conflicts in Your Relationship

Communication is a key element to the success of any relationship. When you and your partner perceive the world differently, good communication can be difficult. Each of you may be saying "I love you" to the other but the message doesn't get across. Here is how personal perception influences the way you communicate with each other and how to accommodate for the differences.

Discover Sensory Preferences

One way to identify the differences in perception is through couples counseling. A therapist can guide each of you through exercises to determine what your sensory preferences are that influence your perception of the world. Seeing, hearing and feeling are the key senses with which people experience the world. These preferences are also reflected in the way you communicate with each other.

A person with a strong preference for the visual sense may enjoy being entertained by watching movies. They may own hundreds of DVDs with their favorite movies and TV shows. They would prefer to watch a concert than just listen to it. Their office may be decorated with photos of friends and family. Even their language shows a visual preference. They may say "I saw the funniest show last night" and "This looks like a good plan to me."

A person with an auditory preference may always have their headphones in, listening to music or a podcast. They may have hundreds of songs on their smartphone. They enjoy listening to a concert more that watching the light show. Their language reflects their preference for hearing with phrases such as "I heard the best guitar player last night" and "This sounds like a good plan to me."

A kinesthetic person with a preference for feelings is not only focused on the tactile qualities of the world, but on how they feel internally about an experience. They may listen to music or watch a movie because of an emotion that it produces. They will use language such as "That lecture last night got me pumped up to be a better recycler" and "I was touched by that person's generosity."

How These Preferences Influence Communication

If you and your partner have different sensory preferences, you may be saying the same things to each other, but in a language that each other doesn't fully understand. For example, your visual nature may cause you to send flowers to your partner or write them a heartfelt card saying "I love you." But your auditory partner may wonder why they never hear you say "I love you." Your kinesthetic partner will appreciate the feelings invoked through your flowers and cards, but they really need a hug from you to feel loved.

Developing Better Communication Using the Preferences

Once you've identified each other's sensory preferences during counseling, you can begin to speak in each other's preferred language. You can still send cards and flowers, but remember to say the words "I love you" or give your partner more intimacy. Your partner will also come to understand in which ways you best receive these important messages.

To learn more about you and your partner's preferences and how to cater to both, visit resources like Blue Spruce Counseling.