Do you have the same argument with your spouse over and over? Can you recite their response even before you begin? Are you losing interest in even having conversations with them? This can be the beginning of no communication cumulating in an unhappy marriage or divorce.
There is a better way. It can change. By listening, looking and repeating before responding, you allow them to feel heard. This in turn allows you to more fully understand their point of view. When you understand them, your response is different which translates to more understanding from your partner to your point of view and increased understanding before they respond. The cycle becomes a more positive type of ongoing communication.
Listen. When your partner is speaking, listen intently to them resisting the urge to rehearse a response. Listen for repeated words, phrases, or emotions; this will give you a clue as to what is really important to them. Voice inflection can also identify the real issue or at least the most passionate issue. Ironically it is usually the last thing a person states that is the most significant, not the first. If you are spending your time thinking about your response to the first thing they said, you will miss the major issue of the discussion.
Look. Body language, the time of day, the location of the discussion, and the emotional reaction all provide information as to the type of feedback desired. For instance, if your spouse confronts you with their hands on their hips, with an angry face yelling, at the end of a long day while you are walking in the door, they are not interested in positive feedback. Instead they are more interested in getting the upper hand. If instead your spouse sets a time and place with you in advance and greets you warmly with a pleasant smile, they are looking for a mutual agreement instead of the upper hand. Turn around is fair play, so if you want to be treated kindly, then you should do the same.
Repeat. Before you respond, repeat what you have learned from listening and observing, not just the words stated but the emotions as well. Repeating what you have learned gives your spouse the chance to correct any misunderstandings before you respond. If you respond before clarifying, then you may be responding to the wrong issue and make the situation worse. Feeling loved is about knowing that your spouse truly listens and understands, so take the time to complete this step before moving on to the next one.
Respond. Only after you have listened, looked and repeated what your spouse has expressed should you respond to what they are saying. Resist the urge to cram everything you have been thinking into a short time period. Instead, select one issue and respond to it allowing time for your spouse to respond. Resolving one issue at a time actually saves time rather than downloading a bunch of things all at once which can be overwhelming. Once an issue is resolved, take a break rather than moving on to the next topic, this allows both of you to absorb the conversation and reflect.
Communication is difficult but you can learn to communicate effectively. Not everyone communicates the same way so understanding your spouse’s personality is an important element. But if you use the listen, look, repeat, and respond method, it will go a long way to helping increase positive communication.
Repairing, restoring, and rebuilding relationships takes time, energy and effort. If you find yourself needing more help during this process, please call our offices at 407-647-7005 to schedule an appointment. Or you can send me a quick email at firstname.lastname@example.org.