6 Ways to More Effective Conversations in Relationships
I thought I won the argument with my partner as to how to arrange the dining room furniture. But when I got home the tables were turned.
Great joke as my partner and I were furniture shopping for our next couch. On the other hand accurate to how we may feel in debates with our partner. We may feel we are on the same page with someone then suddenly we find ourselves in another huge miscommunication. Think of some of the situations you may have found yourself in? A situation in which you felt understood, secure in the conversation, then come back to the situation to find something else done or a new plan in place. Some ways to help you cope with the changes are listed below. Use a guide while having a conversation with someone especially someone that you love.
One way to do this is it get confirmation that they are ready to listen in a polite way. This is not done by saying, “Are you ready to listen because you never listen to?” Ask “When is a good time to talk about ______?” If there are time constraints then include that in your question. “We need to discuss this by Thursday or tomorrow.” If they respond that they are not ready to listen then decide on a time within which you will reconvene and finish the topic in the agreed-upon time. Both partners are responsible for revisiting the subject matter.
A great line from Chris Tucker’s character in Rush Hour, “Do you understand the words that are coming out of my mouth?” Despite how comical he was being it is a helpful reminder to clarify the understanding someone has. We can have them confirm, repeat back their understanding of what was said. We can address by stating, “Could you tell me how you understand what I just said?” or, “What did you hear me say?” This helps make sure there is no further misunderstanding. If anything needs clarification it is done in real-time as opposed to after the conversation has taken place. Jumping to conclusions is a natural form of exercise especially when someone’s defenses are exhausted. Another way to exercise healthier relationship communication is to exercise a relationship agenda. Create a physical list of things told/talked about.
What it’s not:
Like a work meeting agenda with meeting minutes to keep track of what was discussed though not as strict as a work agenda. It will keep track of things such as:
- What I appreciate in my partner:
- What I need more of:
- How are we addressing concerns?
Sync calendars with your partner to help remind and aid in individual accountability. This is helpful for families to increase family awareness to schedules with work school and extracurricular activity. Preparing for a family? This is good for the couple to get into a practice of syncing schedules if they don’t already.
Each partner writes notes ahead of time to help with the clarifying process. A lot of the times we just need to get the junk out of our head when we are speaking with somebody that could be removed ahead of time before we involve them in the junk that doesn’t need to be heard. This filtration process can be done by writing notes on cell phones or computers. Journaling ahead of time what it is that you would like to say to your partner.
Most importantly hear what the other person is saying. Do not apply your understanding in place of their meaning. Do not put words in their mouth or in your mind that is not theirs. Turning the tables to your partner in a slow startup is better to practice, turning the space adjacent to each other where you will have more meaningful conversations to a better understanding.