post written by: Marc Chernoff

6 Ways to Speak Well to Your Loved Ones


6 Ways to Speak Well to Your Loved Ones

Every heart sings a song, incomplete,
until another heart whispers back.
―Plato

At a time in history when we are communicating more rapidly than ever – via texts, tweets and email volleys, one after the next – it seems there is hardly anyone among us who couldn’t use some tips to facilitate more heartfelt communication for our in-person interactions with the people we care about most.

Here are some ideas to get you started:

1.  Tell them how important they are, often.

Here’s a wake-up call for you:  No matter how sure you are of someone’s love, it’s always nice to be reminded of it.

Loving someone and having them love you back is the most precious phenomenon in the world, and it should be expressed as such.  When you truly love someone, be loving in words and deeds every single day.  Don’t beat around the bush.  Be straightforward.

If you appreciate someone today, tell them.  If you adore someone today, show them.  Hearts are often confused and broken by thoughtful words left unspoken and loving deeds left undone.  There might not be a tomorrow.  Today is the day to express your love and admiration.

2.  Communicate your feelings openly.

Your parents may have told you that it’s not what you say but how you say it that counts.  This can be true in a professional setting, but when it comes to your closest relationships open, honest transparency is imperative.

Express how you truly feel.  Say what you mean and mean what you say.  Give the important people in your life the information they need, rather than expecting them to know the unknowable.  Express your fears, tears, doubts and insecurities – let your loved ones experience YOU.  Have the courage to be yourself in front of them.

Relationships flourish when both people are able to share their innermost feelings and thoughts about themselves and each other.  To be fully seen by someone, in raw form, and be adored anyhow, is what love is.  (Angel and I discuss this in detail in the Relationships chapter of 1,000 Little Things Happy, Successful People Do Differently.)

3.  Speak the truth.

As a wise man once said, “I tell the truth because it’s the easiest thing to remember.”  Living through a facade puts an incredible burden on your emotional well-being.  Speaking the truth, even and most often when it hurts, frees mental space and increases your ability to connect with the people you care about.  Keep in mind that a large part of such openness requires taking personal responsibility for your wrong doings.  If you know, for instance, that your actions or words have hurt a loved one, you must immediately admit your faults and face reality.

If you live for the truth now, you will find comfort and peace in the end.  If you live for comfort and peace now by avoiding the truth, you will get neither comfort nor peace nor truth, only wishful thinking to begin, and lasting regret in the end.

4.  Ask thoughtful questions and listen intently.

Too often we underestimate the power of a thoughtful question and a listening ear that’s fully present and focused.  Although it’s a simple act, it may very well be the most powerful act of caring – one which has the potential to turn a life around.

And once you inquire, be sure you listen to understand, not to reply and hear yourself talk.  Oftentimes a reply isn’t even necessary.  Listening is a sincere attitude of the heart, a genuine desire to be with another that both attracts and heals, perhaps without ever saying a word.  (Read The Mastery of Love.)

5.  Let your actions speak for themselves.

Actions often speak much louder than words.  When you love someone you have to act accordingly.  They will be able to tell how you feel about them simply by the way you treat them over the long-term.

You can say sorry a thousand times, or say “I love you” as much as you want, but if you’re not going to prove that the things you say are true, they aren’t.  If you can’t show it, your words are not sincere.

And remember, it’s not so much about how much you do for your loved ones as it is about the love you put into what you do for them.  Learn what matters most to them and make a habit of it.

6.  Touch.

Touch has a lasting memory.  Sometimes reaching out and taking someone’s hand is the beginning of a beautiful journey.  Sometimes a long hug speaks louder than all the words in the world.  Sometimes your lips can’t accurately articulate what you mean without using them to kiss.  And sometimes, quite frankly, a moment of touching is the difference between hopeless despair and the ability to carry on.

Physical touch can make or break a relationship and can communicate respect or ridicule.  Some of us require touch more than others, but some physical interaction – be it a hug, a handshake, a pat on the back, or otherwise – is important in your closest relationships.  (Read The 5 Love Languages.)

Final Thoughts

Lots of irritation and heartache can be avoided just by being more aware of what your loved ones value in communication.  I encourage you to set aside an hour to discuss this article with someone you love.  It may be eye-opening to gain more clarity about the way they like to be loved.

Your turn…

What do you say or do when you want to show someone you love them?  How do you like others to show you that they love you?  Please let us know by replying below.

Photo by: Sky Captain Two

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52 Comments

  • I totally agree. I never get tired of my wife telling me how much she loves me. It’s music to my ears every single time, and it’s been 28 beautiful years.

    When I want to express my love to her, I cook her one of my special breakfast feasts. She loves them!

    Thanks for another uplifting, thoughtful post.

  • I smile at them with my eyes as well as my mouth. Getting a genuine smile from someone you care about opens my heart. I like to share that back as well.

  • I’ve been in a timid place emotionally since I met with my girlfriend after a very long breakup. So I really have not told her properly how important she is to me. Thanks for reminding me that I need to show her more direct affection. I’m gonna try out all of these suggestions.

  • I think for me being loved means being supported and knowing there is a belief in me and what I stand for. I value hugs and touch, but I value positive, uplifting words with action behind them even more.

    I also like being surprised - with things that reflect and show that someone knows me well because they’ve observed what I’m truly about.

  • I have been texting my loved ones and friends when they cross my mind. Whatever I am thinking, maybe I love you or thinking of you or I’m at a soccer game wish you were here.

    I have been feeling the love back with their responses. My mom texted last week “nighty night, love you sweetie” and my dad texted too - these two texts were the most loved filled because my parents are older and hate texting but texted me anyway.

    Thanks for the love filled ideas.

  • Marvelous words to read and put into action. I couldn’t agree more with each point. For me the first three are most important.

    Oh, and I like to be loved with little unexpected gifts from my beloved. :)

  • Sometimes, a smile or just a simple thought to let one know you care is good enough… the best of relationships crumble because of lack of positive communication.

    I am humbled again… what you write is almost always bang on : )

  • Laurie Jacobson
    April 24th, 2013 at 7:45 am

    Everyday I tell my family and friends I love them. It’s so important to show gratitude and affection…
    This is a wonderful article!
    Thank you for the inspiration.
    Laurie

  • I’m currently going through a difficult period in my marriage - my husband is involved in a relationship with another woman and has rejected me and our children. I have gone through this before being the other woman in the story before. Instead of destroying me this experience has made me really dig deep to discover my wants and needs from a relationship. Next time I will not allow words to take the place of action and intentions when it comes to a relationship. What I’ve learned from this experience is that authenticity, compassion, kindness and true friendship must be the foundation to the start of any relationship.

  • Listening for subtle “I love you”s will make your world richer. I asked an old man in line at the bakery about a cookie I’d never tried, he bought me one.

    A neighbor invites me over for dinner & a movie when my family is out of town.

    A friend asked “How are you?” I replied, “I’m terrific!” He said, “I think you’re terrific too.”

    People say “I love you” in many different ways”. Be listening.

  • First off…thank you guys! I discovered your blog/website awhile back and I adore it. The topics and thoughts are bang on for these crazy times we live in. I believe there is a wind of change since the shift, it will take time yes, but with inspirational blogs like yours it will plant a lot of seeds in the human psyche to help transit from a society of fear to one of love…

    Keep up the good work, we appreciate it and it’s important. Thank you! Bless you!

  • I love small gestures of love from my family and close friends - you know, those little things that your loved ones do for you to make you smile - the things only they know you appreciate.

  • I love your blog and it has been a priceless tool in my recovery life. In a blog about communication though, you might have been a little more careful about the lead photo. A guy with his hand raised (finger pointed skyward) and a girl listening intently? I’m a guy, and hardly PC, but it struck me as somewhat patronizing. Just a thought.

    Thanks for all of your insight and hard work!

  • I miss holding hands - particularly while walking together and standing at mass.

  • Thanks for the gentle reminder. Sometimes we hear but do not listen. I will be working on true communication with my dear husband.

  • I have followed the above tenets but unfortunately my family does not do the same; by being honest with my older brother recently he has now cut me off completely. He has done this in the past and a whole year passed, I had to pretend like nothing had happened in order to see my nephew and get us talking again. However, I just can’t put up with his bad behavior any more. Sometimes you have to let family go when they do not follow the same principles as you do; in my case honesty from me and other loved ones was the last thing my brother wanted to hear (he is 42 btw).

  • I want that squeeze of the hand, that stroke on my arm, that back rub with the feeling that they want to do it, not that they think you expect it so that’s why it’s done. Preempt me by knowing what I require, go the extra mile just because you want to….

  • Sometimes I forget to speak my feelings. I think that going to work each day and bringing home my paycheck shows my family how much I love and care for them. And it does. But so do words. And hugs. And all that stuff.

  • Thank you for the reminders. I often forget to take time for the simple acts to let my husband know how much I love him. Our lives are full and very busy but it is a huge mistake to forget to listen fully and touch often. I will strive to do better.

  • Beautiful reminders of how we must treat each other.

  • In my job I listen to dozens of people around the country on conference calls, and have gotten good at it. My listening at home has gotten worse at the same rate of speed. The process of turning this around has taken more energy than I thought, but it is starting.

    Technology is nice, leverage it. But answer this for me: when you get your standard mail, do you open the birthday card or your phone bill first? Skip the post card or thumb through coupons? The personal touch always wins.

    I am the worst gift receiver on the planet. I always think in terms of needs over wants, and I have plenty already. So I need to be more gracious.

  • Active listening is a key point; people are much more likely to respond positively when their ideas and feelings are being not only acknowledged, but acted upon.

  • Another great post..

    How about “Loyalty” speak well of them to others, have their back when out in public, avoid triangulation, public correction or open public criticism… make sure your actions match your loving intentions.

  • In the pic above I see a man and woman gazing across a river or lake at night. He’s pointing to the city lights, or the orange sky at sunset. It’s totally a matter of perspective. I believe it’s a matter of what your eyes see, and mine see beauty today. Tomorrow I may see something different in the same pic…

    Communication in love is hard and very scary. I am in love with a man. He and I have both been hurt deeply, but I am a hopeless romantic that can’t shut down my heart, and my soul is screaming to be let loose (finally after the divorce). He’s still protective of his heart, and I’m afraid of him running if I express my true self and tell him that he’s that special to me. I’m not sure what to do about that. I’m assuming I’m still protecting my heart too… Hmmm… What to do except to be patient and have faith for a moment longer. Everyone heals at different speeds.

  • Touch is so such a weird yet fascinating thing. Someone touched me on my neck this past weekend and I haven’t been able to forget it. Very strange indeed.

  • I just recognized a co-worker who is also a friend and thought back to saying to my husband this morning, very sleepily, “I love you.” Sometimes I feel like I say it too much.. but thanks for the reminder that it is truly never enough :-)

  • Thank You. I definitely make it a point to have time with no electronics to just hang out and talk. A open talk with no agenda just what ever flows at the moment through these conversations I have been able to get insights to new interests for example for his last birthday he did not want to celebrate but I still got him a gift I knew he was trying to drink less coffee and energy drinks so I got him a Japanese style tea set (he loves Japanese food) and some tea that I picked while I was on a hike. He absolutely loved the tea and the support if getting of energy drinks. It was that little push for him to venture into new territory (one that he has showed interested in but for some reason was holding back).

  • Nice post Marc.

    It is so important to understand our loved ones’ love language. I am very tactile. Touch is the best way for someone to show me they love me and to make me feel comfortable and secure.

    My husband, on the other hand, is much more word oriented. I’ve had to learn to say more. To express the positive things I’m thinking as a way to let him know I love and appreciate him.

    He has learned to touch more.

    We have also learned that the other tends to express their love in the way they most relate to. We’ve allowed our individual ways of expressing feelings to take on more meaning.

  • My husband made this past Saturday “Sheryl Appreciate Day.” I made all the decisions and decided everything for us to do. We had a lot of great laughs and celebrated “us.” I think I’ll keep him!!!

  • Nice post Marc!

    The holding of hands, the sayings “I love you” and unexpected gifts are my favorites.

  • “Sometimes your lips can’t accurately articulate what you mean without using them to kiss.” This sentence is pure romance. I love it!!!

  • These are all such powerful ways to convey our love. And they all boil down to a common thread: the power of connection - physical, spiritual, and psychological connection. The older I get, the more crucial I believe it is to understand this and cultivation our connection skills in all aspects of our life.

  • Making time for those I love and truly being there with them is the most loving thing I do. None of the other things can happen if you don’t make the time in the first place. It’s too easy to stay ‘busy’. And hugs are a favourite way to connect. Can we ever get enough hugs? XXX

  • Thanks Marc and Angel for your work. As one that lacks experience, this is one article that I really needed to see. It’s funny how the simplest answers are right in front of us, yet we overcompliate them to the point where the pressure we put on ourselves keeps building up so much that we end up choking under it all. I will not make the same mistakes again. Thanks guys and love the Plato quote.

  • What a wonderful post! I resonate with all these things, especially touch. I communicate almost all my feelings thru touch. This was hard for my husband at first, but massaging, hugging, kissing etc. ended up making him very “touchy” after 40 years.

    Another way I say I love people is cooking and making things for them. I will almost always remember someones favorite food or dessert, and will lovingly make it for them. My Grandmother taught me that food always tastes better when it is made with love, and I really think that is true. At Christmas she would lovingly make a Swedish Cardamon bread for each of her 6 children and family, entirely by hand. It was a wonderful treat we looked forward to year after year. After she passed I made that same bread, thinking mine would turn out even better with a powerful mixer to knead it so much more efficiently. Sorry to say it wasn’t quite the same, but it still brings a feeling of love from memories of her.

    Thank you for giving us all something to think about. I’m going to have my husband read this and maybe open a dialog for communication(one of my hardest things to do). Continue to spread the “good” energy out into our universe, I think it helps!

  • @Shelly Miller: I totally agree. Angel and I love receiving texts from our parents. They don’t do it often, but when they do it really means a lot to us.

    @Irani: NO doubt. Good, honest communication is the foundation of a healthy relationship.

    @Sandra Hamlett: Your perspective on such a difficult situation is awe-inspiring. There’s no question that you have a lot to deal with and decide on, but it sounds like you head and heart are in the right place to make progress. I wish you all the best with this situation.

    @Cynthia: Thank you for sharing these beautiful examples of everyday love.

    @Don: Honestly, Angel actually picked this photo out. It’s not the way we had interpreted it at all. Interesting perspective though.

    @katy: Sadly, some people just aren’t loveable in a way that is compatible with our demeanor. It sounds like your brother is one of these people in your life. Perhaps an open conversation between the two of you would clear some of the confusion. Or perhaps it’s necessary to give your relationship some space, and simply focus on your relationship with your nephew instead.

    @TB: Yes, money is important, but not nearly as important as the knowledge that you are loved.

    @David Rapp: Great analogy. In modern times, a little snail mail reminder that you are thinking of someone is perhaps one of the easiest ways to catch them off-guard and remind them that they are loved.

    @Mike: Agreed. Listening is the most important part of a discussion.

    @Stephen: Yes, loyalty is a must. Thanks for the addition.

    @Michelle: I agree with your comments about the photo – what you see is entirely a matter of perspective. Also, it sounds like you already know the path forward – patience, honesty, and baby steps. Take it slow, but make sure you are communicating. Gradually, he should learn how you feel.

    @Brian: It sounds like you two have a wonderful, balanced relationship – both of you are willing to learn and adapt to the language of love that each other yearns for. Thanks for sharing your story with us.

    @Sheryl Kurland: Sounds like a great day!

    @Carol: That’s such a remarkable way to celebrate the life and memory of a loved one. Thanks for sharing. And thanks for the kind remarks.

    @All: Such lovely comments. It’s inspiring to read about the little ways we all like to be loved, and all the beautiful, selfless things we do for our loved ones. As always, thanks for keeping us inspired. =)

  • I don’t know what to say but, I feel sad when I don’t have the guts and courage to talk and tell the truth to my best friend. I wanted to tell her the reason why I left her behind for a very lame reason. Now, she’s gone and we drifted apart. I didn’t even had the chance to say I love you, but there really are chances, I just hesitate to speak because I don’t know if she’s willing to talk to me. :(

  • I make it a point to call my closest friends and family once a month to catch up with them and tell them how much they mean to me. I’ve been doing this for 30 years now, and it has helped me maintain my most priceless relationships.

  • I am kind of an action oriented gal. I show my husband that I love him by cooking his favorite meals or buying little gifts. Sometimes, though, I really think that I need to speak more and let him know how happy I am to be in the relationship. Your points 1 to 4 are especially meaningful to me. Thank you.

  • Awesome! It’s also important to understand how to communicate well with YOURSELF… And following these guidelines can help with that as well. Thanks (as always) for the great read!

    ~Namaste

  • Thanks for such lovely important points. I always do that to my boyfriend. The sad part of it is that he doesn’t and it breaks my heart sometimes, but I will continue anyway. Thank you Marc and Angel. God bless.

  • Thanks a lot Marc & angel… it refreshes my memory that conversation enriches understanding and relationships, but solitude is the genesis of genius.

  • Love is a very powerful word; its only four letter words but its translated in many ways. I believe that open communication is a must; always talk about any problems and find a resolution and best of all do not go to bed mad with your love ones.

  • Hey great post guys…My wife and I basically live by this stuff although it can be forgotten from time to time. Thanks for sharing, great post!

  • What a brilliant reminder this post is. Three things come to mind that I love having said to me and try to remember to say to others every day:

    How lovely to see you!
    How was your day?
    Thank you
    :-)

  • Awesome! I’m going to try all this. For me, spending moments just laughing and having fun, even if it’s not on anything serious, is what I also think could work.

  • Thank you for all your positive, eye-opening suggestions to remind us all to be a better person. Sometimes it takes a stranger telling us what to do to make a situation better than someone we know. I save all your posts, so at any time I can go back & read them. I am very glad I found your website! and i have shared it with my friends too…

    I am a very affectionate person, I drive my hubby crazy sometimes because I hang all over him while we may be watching TV, and we always go to sleep holding hands. I show people I love & care about by doing things for them, and even at the cost of postage nowadays, I am the one who sends cards in the mail, not only on holidays, but often for no reason but to put a smile on thier face. It makes me happy knowing they’ll be surprised when they get thier mail & find a card from me, sometimes with a little stick of gum inside too! I would like the same surprises, but I learned a long time ago, you can’t expect people to do for you what you do for them because we are all different people & you’ll be disappointed. So do whatever it is for others becuse YOU want to, not becuase you hope they get the hint & do it back.
    I also love to cook… sharing meals with hubby or having my girlfriends over and talking all afternoon is my way of expressing my feelings. and we all tell eachother of our love, becuase you never know when your time is up…

    My husband is good at saying “I love you” often.. but its as important to me he shows it everyday: by going to work and supporting us, by doing stuff I cant, do not like to do, or hate paying someone to do it like washing & waxing my personal & work car. By fixing stuff around the house, by keeping the yard nice & manicured. I offer to help, but he always tells me no. He’ll say something sarcastic, like “No my little princess, you stay inside heaven forbid you sweat or get dirty… ” but he’ll have a twinle in his eye & start laughing. All those things add up & he wouldn’t do them if he didn’t love me. He even washed & waxed my girlfriends car one time when we went shopping all day. What a guy! He knows I am organized, and kinda control freak, so thank goodness, most of the time he’s easy going enough to go with the flow of things I have planned for us to do or to go somewhere… which is great. But on the rare occasion he says he wants to do something or go somewhere, I never disagree… I want him to be happy.
    In turn, I keep the inside of the house clean, make sure he’s fed, has clean clothes, I lay out his gym clothes the night before, keep a stash of pistachios I know he loves. I’ll stick post it notes in odd places that say I love you, youre hot stuff, i am so lucky to have you in my life, etc… One time I printed out Muppets Valentines day little cards off the ‘net in the summer.. put them all over: a few in between his cc cards in his wallet, a few in his car, some mixed in with his socks, so when he unfolded them, a card popped out, etc… he was going nuts laughing as there were so many. But I wanted him to know everyday is Valentine’s Day with him! He loved it!
    It’s all about give & take. not 50%, but 110% on both sides. As long as you don’t ever take eachother for granted and treat eachother everyday as if it were the last and you have that last day to make sure they know they’re loved with all your being… thats what love is about.
    Trust me, it took me a lot of heartache and bad relationships to find the right one… 3rd marriage is a charm! I am so blessed to have this guy in my life & I thank God everyday for him.

  • Being straightforward and talking to them politely is very important… Also, you should care and respect your loved ones enough to really show how much you love them.

    Btw, you have written a great post :)

  • These are way too easy to forget… I find myself forgetting these 6 things all the time - thanks for the reminder!!

  • The physical is something I struggle with. I grew up in a tough love environment so my mom nor my sisters hug me. My bestfriends are also not into that. I love affection so that really hurts me. I also have not been intimate with anyone since the last guy that broke my heart but I don’t think it was geniuine looking back. When I love someone I love them fully; I shower them with hugs, kisses, caresses, massages, hold hands, and of course (for lovers) cuddling and passionate sex. Without physical contact with others I feel empty. It is necessary for us humans to touch each other. I cry every night bc I haven’t touched or been touched in so long. I pray that soon, I will be able to do just that.

  • I totally agree with every point here. Speak well to those you care about. Show them your love.

  • @David Rapp, yes, I agree with you. Being old school, a hand written note is such a wonderful thing to receive. It shows the other person that you actually took the time to sit down with pen and paper and write a note. A love note tucked into your friends bag, a little xo to your child in their lunch box, meet me at 6 in your lover’s pocket.

    Another great post Marc, thank you.

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