A Different Way of Communicating With Your Partner

By Chris Hammond, MS

Do you have the same conversation with your partner over and over? Can you recite their response even before you begin the conversation? Are you losing interest in having conversations with your partner? This can be the beginning of no communication which can either lead to an unhappy relationship or divorce.

There is a better way. It can change. By listening, looking and repeating before responding to your partner, 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 in your mind 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 issue that your partner is most passionate about discussing. 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 emotions displayed all provide information as to the type of feedback your partner is hoping to receive. For instance, if your partner 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, your partner is not interested in giving you a chance to have positive feedback. Instead they are more interested in getting the upper hand to most likely get their way about an issue. If instead your partner sets a time and place with you in advance for the discussion, greets you warmly with a pleasant smile, your partner is looking for a mutual agreement instead of the upper hand. Turn around is fair play, so if you want to be treated kindly by your partner about an issue, you should do the same for them.

Repeat. Before you respond, repeat what you have learned from listening and observing, not just the words they have said but the emotions they have expressed as well. Repeating what you have learned gives your partner the chance to correct any misunderstood information before you respond. If you respond before receiving clarification, then you may be responding to the wrong issue and make the situation even worse. Feeling loved is about knowing that your partner truly listens and understands you, 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 partner 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 partner to respond to your comments. Resolving one issue at a time actually saves time rather than downloading a bunch of things all at once which can be overwhelming to your partner. Once an issue is resolved, take a break rather than moving on to the next topic, this allows both of your to absorb the conversation and reflect on what was discussed.

Communication is difficult and the process to improving your communication is often learned. Not everyone communicates the same way so understanding your partner’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.


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"Reprinted with permission from the LifeWorks Group weekly eNews, (Copyright, 2004-2011), To subscribe to this valuable counseling and coaching resource visit www.LifeWorksGroup.org or call 407-647-7005"

About the author- Chris Hammond is a Registered Mental Health Counselor Intern at LifeWorks Group w/ over 15 years of experience as a counselor, mentor & teacher for children, teenagers & adults.

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