couple communicatingThe Fourth chapter in my book discusses problem solving and communication skills.

They do go hand in hand.

You can’t solve a problem unless you understand WHY it is a problem to each person.

And you can’t understand someone else until you stop judging or debating what they are saying and just listen and understand their perspective.

This was my favorite part of relationship/marital counseling.

I would have my couples share their concerns within a specific format. Based on the Fighting For Your Marriage program.

One partner would start and talk in this structure:

  • I feel this (emotion)
  • when (this behavior happens)
  • because this is how it affects me.

The speaking partner could not use the word “YOU.”

I would then ask the other partner to listen without disruption.

When the speaking partner was done I would ask the listening partner what do you think they said.

I would then ask the speaking partner if that is what they said.

The listening partner could not repeat verbatim what the speaking partner said.  They had to use their own words.  They also could not debate what was said, just tell the speaking partner what they thought they heard.

Often the listener could not tell the speaking partner what they just said.

Often the listening partner heard something completely opposite of what was said.

Rarely did the listening partner actually hear what the speaking partner was trying to say. However they struggled with wanting to judge or debate what the speaker said.

I would then have them trade roles and do it again; Same results.

People often thought that what their listening partner said was correct.  However my role was to get the speaker to understand is that what you said or is that close enough.

Close enough is not Good enough.

People need to really understand how their behavior affects their partner.

Most of the time just coming to the understanding that leaving your clothes in a pile in front of the laundry basket causes one extra step in the laundry process, but more importantly it represents resentment  and that the other persons laziness is really disrespect.

Imagine that dirty laundry on the floor could really mean disrespect for your partner and not just nagging.

Learn to hear the meaning behind what people are saying with their words, not just their words.

Catch you later, Maureen