Building skills to develop healthy relationships is an important part of the college experience for many students. Going to college can often mean a lot of "firsts" with regard to relationships. Some examples are the first time being away from your family, the first time living with a roommate, and the first serious or long-term romantic relationship. On top of that, many students are also managing relationships with professors, academic advisors, and bosses or supervisors at the same time. All these changes really emphasize the importance of having the right skills to make sure relationships are positive, productive, and drama free.
The best way to make sure that your relationships are healthy is to improve your communication skills. Probably the most important skills to develop are listening, assertiveness, and fair fighting.
- Active Listening: means focusing on the person who is speaking with your full attention in order to make that person feel heard. Feeling heard and understood increases connection and closeness and reduces defensive feelings. When the other person feels heard and understood, chances are he or she will want to reciprocate. Check out this web site for tips on how to improve your active listening skills.
- Assertiveness: means being able to stand up for your personal rights by saying" no." It also means you ask for what you want, in a way that maintains your self-respect and the respect of others. Developing assertiveness skills usually takes time and practice, and for most people it's a process that might not go smoothly right away. If you want to work on practicing assertive responses with a counselor, we offer group therapy and workshops that could be particularly helpful for building these skills. For more information how what assertiveness is and how you can practice improving your assertive responses, check out these guidelines and examples:
- Fair Fighting: Remember that disagreements happen in all relationships, even healthy ones! We all make mistakes sometimes and in a healthy relationship voicing your feelings (even anger) can help to clear the air if done in a respectful way.