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Healthy communication skills can turn a good relationship into a great one. Healthy communication is all about respect, honesty, listening, and being open with your feelings and what you want.

What’s healthy communication?

Communication isn’t all about talking. Listening and being respectful are just as important. Healthy communication is a 2-way street.

It’s easy to talk about things when times are good or when both people see eye to eye. But in a healthy relationship you can also talk about difficult stuff without insulting or hurting each other. You might not always agree, but you talk through your differences while feeling safe, respected, and heard. That means telling someone what you want and feel and also listening and respecting what they say, too.

Healthy communication is NOT manipulative, mean-spirited, disrespectful, or one-sided. It’s not about getting your way - it’s about both of you being there for each other.

What are some tips for healthy communication?

Healthy communication takes practice and planning. Here are some tips to help you get started.

  • Use "I statements.” Say things like, "I feel upset when you ___" instead of, "You're making me upset." Steer clear of blaming or accusing them of purposely trying to hurt you.

  • Be clear and direct. No one can read your mind, so tell them what you think, feel, and need.

  • Don’t push aside your feelings. Bring up things that bother you early on so they don’t build up and become bigger problems.

  • Build trust. Unless someone has given you a reason not to, believing that they’re telling you the truth and assuming that they mean well helps establish trust.

  • Ask questions. If you don't understand what they're saying or why, ask questions. Don’t make assumptions.

  • Talk in person. It's really easy to misunderstand or misinterpret a text message or email. Talking in person (or through video chat) will allow you to hear their tone of voice and see their body language.

  • Don’t yell. Getting angry or defensive during an argument is totally normal. But if you’re feeling upset or angry, take a break until you both cool off.

  • Be willing to apologize. Everyone makes mistakes. Saying you’re sorry (and meaning it) goes a long way in helping to move on after a fight.