August 12, 2021 |Gideon Hanekom

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I believe there are two very specific communication skills of top leaders that can help your marriage.

But first, let’s define “leadership”.

What does it mean to be a “top leader”?

In this post, simply put, being a “top leader” means to be someone who inspires and moves other people to commitment and action in an organisational or business setting.

So, why communication skills of top leaders?

The simple reason is, top leaders usually understand that people are their greatest asset rather than systems or technology.

When you study the mindsets, attitudes, beliefs, and processes of the world’s top leaders (famous or lesser-known), you almost always see the importance and emphasis they put on people.

They understand the value of people and consequently develop the skill sets to understand, inspire, and move people even more.

Simon Sinek teaches on these concepts extensively, for example, in his bestselling book “Leaders eat last”.

Now, maybe at this stage you immediately feel like saying that you’re not one of those leaders.

Maybe you just feel like a stay-at-home dad or soccer mum.

Or perhaps a small business owner or 9-to-5 accountant.

I appreciate that, but that’s not the point I want you to get here.

When I need you to focus on is the fact that no matter where you’re at right now, there is no need for you to figure things out all on your own.

I’m assuming that by reading this post, you’re interested in how to improve communication in your marriage.

Am I right?

And perhaps you’ve also already tried many things that have either worked or not worked.

Perhaps you’re already in some form of therapy and some of it’s working on some of it’s not.

That’s all fine.

The point I’m trying to make is that you don’t need to be a top leader of anything to still learn from what top leaders can teach you.

And much of what top leaders can teach you can benefit your marriage, especially communication with your spouse.

Top leaders have shown that they understand people to the extent that they can establish healthy relationships with them and get them to commit their greatest resources, like time and energy, to what is essentially organisational outcomes.

Wouldn’t that be helpful to you and the relationships in your life, like your marriage, if you could have just a little bit of insight into what they understand about our relationships?

I’m a big believer in the idea that we can hugely improve our chances for achieving a certain result in a specific area of our lives when we consider something I call “cross-modelling”.

That means we take wisdom, lessons, skills, and so on, from a completely unrelated field or area, extract what is potentially beneficial or helpful, and apply it to the area we are concerned about.

In this instance, we are applying to communication skills of top leaders to marriage, and especially to communication as a couple.

So, with all of that said what are the two communication skills of top leaders that can help your marriage?

There are most likely more, but let’s just focus on these two communication skills because they make the rest infinitely easier if you understand and apply them correctly.

The first one is,

Learn to listen.

Top leaders know that the skill of listening well is a crucial part of communication.


Two reasons…

One, everyone wants to be heard because, like it or not, the majority of us are self-interested on some level or another.

And two, we tend to feel much closer to those who pay attention to us because we feel important to them.

Simply put, when someone listens to us we feel important in ourselves and to them, and consequently, we feel closer to them.

So, learning to love listening and engaging with your spouse is a communication skill that will serve your marriage forever.

But I feel, at this point, I need to make a small footnote.

Being a good communicator doesn’t mean you’re a great orator or public speaker.

It simply means, in this context, that you understand and use the principles of good communication with another human being and the central role place in connecting with them.

Being a good communicator doesn’t mean that you speak flawlessly, but it does mean that during a conversation with your spouse, you are relentless in paying attention to them instead of being distracted by your phone or other devices, for example.

It means you’re giving your spouse your full attention.

It means you’re showing genuine interest.

It means you validate them and their feelings, whether you understand or agree/disagree with them.

When you learn to listen, your spouse will notice that you’re listening to them and will always go away from your conversations feeling heard and like they are the most important person in your life at that moment.

And that is key!

It is also where a lot of husbands drop the ball badly.

Sorry Boys!

They think that giving advice, i.e. talking rationally, makes them good at communication with their wives.

But nothing could be further from the truth.

For marriage is not a game of logic and reason, but emotions.

When your wife communicates with you and you fail, and yes, I’m using the word FAIL, to make her feel heard, validated, and important in that moment, she WILL feel…

1) disconnected from you and

2) your intimate bond with each other gets another crack in it.

Do that long enough, and the cracks will become so overwhelming and wide that what remains of your relationship will struggle to hold anything good.

Listening effectively is one of the communication skills of top leaders that can truly help your marriage.

Make a real effort to develop this skill, and you can thank me later.

The second communication skill of top leaders that can benefit your relationship with your spouse, is learning to,

Pay attention to your spouse’s emotions and feelings.

I’ve said in a previous post that the core problem most unhappy face, is that romantic relationships or marriage is not a game of rational thinking but rather a concoction of miscellaneous, messy, and mixed feelings, most of the time.

What that means, in essence, is that couples who don’t understand how or struggle to make each other feel good in the context of their relationship are fighting a losing battle.

So even though we’re talking about the communication skills of top leaders that can help your marriage, unless you understand that marriage is all about emotions and how your spouse feels around you, no amount of skills will make up for it.

However, words are also powerful and how you communicate can affect your spouse in many different ways, i.e. make them feel different emotions.

Therefore, it is paramount that when you interact and communicate with each other, you show sympathy and empathy when it’s appropriate.

You must learn to look at things from your spouse’s point of view without criticism or judgement, or always having opinions about everything.

Because sometimes your spouse isn’t looking for your opinion but simply your ear and presence.

Again, top leaders understand the power of people’s feelings.

They understand that if people are not moved on an emotional level, there are effectively not moved.

They might do things for a while, or until you leave the room, but since actions flow from emotions, without the necessary feelings actions are short-lived.

Let’s make it practical.

Think of any action you’ve undertaken in the past but struggled to sustain, like a diet or exercise program.

Why was that?

Now, you might come up with many different reasons but if you’re honest, the truth is we usually stop doing something because we no longer feel like doing it.

That’s also the problem with procrastination – it is essentially a problem of not feeling like doing the thing we know we need to do.

When we are moved emotionally, we are truly moved. Motivated even.

The same goes for a marriage.

If it doesn’t feel good or positive in your marriage or being around you, your spouse won’t come to the party.

Persuasion won’t help.

Threats definitely won’t help.

Even promises will have no effect.

Paying attention to your spouse’s emotions is one of the crucial communication skills of top leaders that can truly transform your marriage if you make it a priority.

The problem, however, in my experience, is that many married couples are so busy with life that they end up neglecting core relationship principles which causes them to pay the price later on.

It results in the old “we have a great life but dying marriage” problem.

And this is something I’ve tried to get across to many couples in the past – just because you created a busy life doesn’t negate the fundamental principles of human connection and healthy marriage dynamics.

Just because you’re busy doesn’t mean the things that make healthy relationships work don’t apply anymore.

In fact, is actually the opposite – it is more important than ever before.

So if you want to help your marriage, pay attention to these two communication skills of top leaders and figure out how you can use them more or better them in your situation.

Your spouse and your marriage will be grateful… And so will you.

About the author

Gideon Hanekom

Gideon Hanekom is the creator of, a popular relationship blog that ranks among the top 50 relationship blogs in 2024. The website helps couples to create happier, healthier, and more intimate relationships. Gideon is a trained professional counsellor and holds post-graduate degrees in Theology and Psychology. His articles have also been featured on respected platforms such as and The Good Men Project.

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