Have you noticed a circular pattern in the dialogue you and your partner have going on? Does it often lead to nowhere fast? Perhaps its time to switch up your style of responding, so you can improve communication in your relationship.
Let’s look at what we can toss aside:
- Defensiveness. Waste of breath. No one’s hearing you anyway
- I am right, you are wrong. This is not a court proceeding so stop presenting evidence
- Attention to details. Skip it. The details are just covering the real issues.
- Generalizing. “You always do that”. Eliminate: always, never, every time. Destructive tactic to disempower.
A word about the need to disempower, which is at the root of conflict. This is your beloved partner, by the way. Why then would you not want to empower him/her in a constructive discussion, rather than win a battle on the playground? There are better ways to “win” that will not leave your loved one resentful. Cheap tactics backfire!
Might we replace the old ways with some new:
- Respond first by acknowledging whatever your partner just said. Even if you do not agree. “I hear that you feel ____.
- Then, some empathy. “Wow, that must be frustrating.”
- Then, your point of view. Presented with your feelings, needs, concerns
- Brainstorm to negotiate a mutually beneficial resolution. Introduce this possibility…
Most importantly, listen for the unspoken disturbance. What is this really about? Probably not just the details of the current event. Is there fear, insecurity, hurt, disappointment underneath the actual circumstances of the conflict? So many couples focus on this outer layer, staying stuck in this peripheral orbit, which probably feels safer in the moment. Perhaps its time to land at the core of the matter. While this requires courage, honesty, and vulnerability, the rewards are fruitful. Practicing this technique becomes a lifelong skill that will empower both of you, and create the bond that holds you together through all the battles to come.