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Communication Best Practices for couples

DO:

  1.  “It’s my perception that….”
  2. Check your perceptions by asking your partner about himself, or herself.
  3. Go straight to where it hurts.

But how do I communicate where it hurts?

Use this format:  “I was about to shut you out emotionally / blame / judge you for / make you wrong for / accuse you of  _________,  but in reality, I was just feeling ___________ (fill in the blanknervous / insecure / frustrated with my own self / scared / inferior / not enough / pressure on myself / hypersensitive / perfectionist / concerned I’d fail to meet your needs / like a failure).

*Resist using words like “tired” or “hungry” or “busy.”   We may indeed be tired or hungry, but we don’t make someone wrong because we are tired or hungry.

*Also, resist using words that have blame or assumption lurking beneath the surface – sentences like, “Well, I was feeling accused!” Or “Yeah, well I was feeling disrespected!”

*Finally, resist using vague words to describe our current state.  For example,  “I was feeling disconnected.” “I was just in my head.” Be specific with your partner. This is called intimacy.

AVOID:

  1. Never ever tell each other ABOUT each other.  Examples: “You did that ‘cuz you were…” | “You don’t want to do this…” | “You don’t like that…”  |  “You’re just trying to…” | “You were feeling like….”  |  “That’s not how your personality is, your personality is….”
  2. Never ever:  Blame.  Accuse.  Criticize.   Or other forms of making the other wrong.
  3. Never ever attempt communicating while you’re feeling angry or reactive. No matter how much your partner may urge you to communicate, if you’re feeling angry, call a time out.

*Before calling a time out, reassure your partner with some form of genuine affirmation, be it a genuine kiss, a genuine hug, or genuine words of affirmation like “I’m not abandoning you, I’m in love with you, and I need a time out, just for now.”

*After calling a time out, never ever abandon the conversation altogether, or stuff it down, but instead always, always resume the conversation (once the anger has passed).

 

 

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