What if your greatest relationship problem was not communication but a lack of commitment to maintain love and safety?
Here are some tips on how to maintain safety in communication.
1. Manage your emotions. We all know how important it is to manage our emotions at work and in public. However, many of us believe that we can let it rip once we cross our front door. This mindset often results in a "no holding back attitude".
Imagine being in a conversation with your boss and using some of the communication strategies you use with your spouse (retaliation, put down, swearing, intimidation, saying mean things, rolling your eyes, exploding, and retreating for days). Likely, this would get you fired. Yet we justify using these very strategies with those we say we cherish. If honesty and openness are crucial in a relationship, they are not a passport to be hurtful.
Practice watching your emotional thermometer. If you find yourself getting upset and agitated, ask for a break so you can ground yourself. Come back after an agreed upon break time and resume the conversation in a calm and respectful manner.
2. Listening and empathizing. Listening is likely the most important skill in communication. Paying attention to the content rather than the delivery can be a great challenge. Learn to listen to what the person tells themselves about the problem and the meaning they place on the event (you don't have to agree with it), the feelings these thoughts evoked and what your partner needs to get grounded again.
Empathize with their feelings. Again, you don't have to agree with their perspective. Acknowledging a person's feelings is a great start to calming the situation.
3. Acknowledge the role you played in the conflict. Don't throw blame back the other way. Consider what you can do differently to positively impact the situation.
4. Ask respectfully for your partner to hear your perspective and needs about the same situation.
If you and your partner feel that you would benefit from learning new communication skills, contact Manon Dulude at (905) 873-4343 to set up a confidential appointment.