I have gotten countless messages from you guys wanting to hear about COMMUNICATION 🗣👤 and I am happy to oblige as the subject is one of the specialties I teach my college kids.
Here are some general tips ✅ :
1.) Active Listening / Feedback:
Sometimes when we listen to our significant other, we’re not fully present. We may be distracted, or feel overly reactive to strong emotions they’re displaying. It’s hard to resist the urge to chime in with a thought (defensive statement, rebuttal, etc.) while the other is speaking, rather than simply taking it all in and then responding afterwards. “Active Listening,” on the other hand, involves making a concerted effort to slow down and listen with an open heart and mind. 👂
Step 2 is sharing feedback. You don’t have to agree with what is being said, but you do want to show that you’re getting the other’s perspective to the best of your ability. For example, you can say, “It sounds like you are upset with me for forgetting to take care of _______, or for using that tone…am I understanding you correctly?”
2.) Don’t make Criticism Personal:
As we all know, criticism makes people feel defensive, which significantly inhibits the listening process and can lead to further escalation of anger and hurt feelings.
3.) Seek First to Understand vs. Being Understood:
When in conflict, our default as human beings is often to focus on our desire to be understood. Rather than emphasizing your own desire to be heard, try changing your focus to putting attention on understanding the other.
4.) Ask Open-Ended Questions:
Have you noticed that those passive-aggressive questions, such as “I wonder if you’ll ever take out the trash without me asking?” don’t seem to initiate healthy dialogue? Try sharing your concern with an open-ended questions. For example, you may say to your spouse, “I could use help with the trash; do you have any ideas for how we can tackle this?” He will likely get the point without feeling personally attacked.
5.) Use “I” statements:
Own your feelings rather than blaming, by using “I” statements when communicating (e.g., I feel, I need, I want). Remember the “XYZ” technique: “I feel X when you do Y in situation Z.” For example: “I feel frustrated when you don’t take out the trash on Tuesdays, the day you agreed to do so.”
Take charge of your own well-being. No one “makes” you upset. You allow it. Find ways to soothe yourself when the feeling arise before confronting your spouse. For example, take a “time out,” by going for a walk or taking some time to yourself to do some breathing exercises. Conversations will be much more productive when emotions are more balanced.
7.) Accept Influence from the Other:
Put yourself in your spouse’s shoes and be willing to go with their perspective and suggestions. Marriage expert Dr. John Gottman’s research indicates that “a marriage succeeds to the extent that the husband can accept influence from his wife.” Accordingly, be mindful of the gender dynamics in your relationship that may foster or inhibit the ability to influence one another.
8.) Share Your Appreciation:
In any good relationship, each person will feel that they are valued and respected for who they are. When communicating, it can be helpful to identify what you appreciate about the other and state those things. Gottman’s research indicates that those in successful relationships make 5 times as many positive statements as negative ones when discussing issues. Affirm one another to maintain trust and respect during tough conversations.
The manner in which you communicate with your spouse is EQUALLY important as what you are saying. Do you agree? Let me know what you think! 💘😘