Tips for Better Communication
Have you ever noticed how quickly communication can go badly? Before you know it you're fighting about something silly but can't stop. Here are some tips on how to get your talks going in the right direction.
1) Ask your partner " Is this a good time to talk?"
Ever get into trouble because you REALLY need to talk and dive right in before your partner is ready? Did it got out of hand quickly? Sometimes, this is the culprit! Once you get agreement that your partner is up to talking things, have a better chance of going smoothly. Both people need to be ready before having a talk!
2) Stick to one topic
Have you ever started talking to your partner about a concern and end up bringing up stuff from the past? It can start by expressing one complaint but the dam bursts. Then everything comes out. This can escalate into an argument fast and cause lots of problems. We can even forget what we originally were upset about!
3) Focus on yourself
It's typical for people to focus on what the other person should do rather than what yourself. Using I statements keeps the focus on yourself without getting into the blame game!
Some examples are
"My concern is______." or "I would like you to _______" I feel_____when you ________."
Rule of thumb here. Focus only the facts after each feeling to avoid blaming or getting even! Say what you want, hear and observe directly etc. Don't make assumptions or mind read what you THINK your partner said.
4) Feedback what you hear
This is a popular skill in couples therapy that helps avoid misunderstandings. Each person takes a turn expressing their point of view. Then the listening partner summarizes what was said without any interpretations, suggestions or changes. That is the key. After you've repeated back what you heard from your partner ask, "Is that right?" If your partner says no, listen again and repeat the process until you've heard the message correctly. Then switch, with you as the speaker and your partner as the listener.
This is good when you want to be heard about an important issue. Not about the weather :)