Do you find yourself having the same arguments over and over with your significant other? Do you feel like nothing gets solved when you try to “talk things out?” Are you frustrated with something but don’t know how to talk to your SO about it? Today’s blog will pinpoint some communication pitfalls that a lot of couples fall into, as well as a step-by-step guide on what to do when you sense the conversation taking a sour turn....
1. Accusing.. Conversations are sure to end in an argument when you begin with “You always” or “You never….” This is just going to put the person in a position where they feel obligated to defend themselves and prove to you that they in fact don’t always or never do what you are accusing them of. Even if it is true, this just isn’t the best way to talk about problems because this kind of language paints them as an adversary instead of a partner. Instead try “I feel……when you do…..” This language makes your partner more inclined to try to understand where you are coming from and examine his/her actions and pinpoint where the message itself or the delivery of it went awry. You both are more likely to talk through things calmly and come to an understanding.
2. “Yes but-ing.” In this communication pitfall, when one partner addresses an issue, the other partner points out the flaws of the other person instead of really listening and evaluating themselves.
This approach places both people on the defensive now, because each person is trying to justify their actions instead of listening to the heart of the issue and trying to come up with a solution. In this conversation, each person shifts the blame on the other back and forth and they end up working against instead of with each other.
3. Kitchen sinking: This is where you approach your conversation starts off addressing one issue, but then one or both partners start bringing up other gripes or issues that may or may not be related to the one you’re discussing. You start off addressing how you want house chores to be divided and end up arguing about everything from the cable bill to the person’s spending habits. Pretty soon the conversation becomes a mess because neither of you remembers what the conversation was supposed to address originally, feelings have been hurt, tempers flare up, and nothing gets resolved. Both partners end up walking away in a huff, feeling like the problem is beyond fixing. That’s because the two of you are trying to solve 10 problems at the same time without taking the time to examine any of them closely.
If you recognize yourself in any of these scenarios, here are some tips to help make your communication with your spouse more productive:
1. Call a time-out. If you see that the conversation is going downhill, or that the message you’re trying to communicate isn’t getting through, it’s okay to stop the conversation before it gets any worse, and take a step back.
2. Review. Ask your partner what they understood about what you just said. In other words, get feedback from them. This is where you trace what went wrong in the conversation.
3. Practice active listening. A common mistake when trying to communicate is trying to making sure our point gets across. Try this approach instead: Paraphrase in your own words what your partner just said. Then put yourself in their shoes and think about how reasonable it is for them to feel they way they feel. Validation is very important. Don’t dismiss your partner’s feelings about the issue or make light of them; you wouldn’t want them doing that to you. Acknowledge that their point of view makes sense. This will go a long way towards putting you both on the same side again and bringing in a more compassionate, accepting tone to the conversation instead of clawing at each other with your words.
4. Try again. Now that you’ve traced the cause of the miscommunication and validated one another’s viewpoints, you can carry on the conversation and it will be more productive.
Try these tips and comment below on how they worked out for you!