Making Communication Goals Easy
May all your resolutions last longer than your troubles. If not…Smile…there is still another year after this one. If you are slow to start like me sometimes and you didn’t start on your New Year’s goals keep reading on.
First, a full week back from any break let alone the holidays is tough. The first month around go-getters and their new year’s resolutions may guilt you into making one if you haven’t already. Feeling as tangled up as your holiday decorations could have you losing your motivation. According to Business Insider, 80% of New Year’s resolutions do not last past February. Maybe starting in February isn’t such a bad thing, not to make light of the resolutions that don’t continue, but to make light of your perception. This perception change is to help minimize the stress in two ways: how goals are addressed and how the ‘perception’ of goals is addressed.
How perceptions of goals are addressed.
If we are open-minded to how goals are to be completed it will allow us more flexibility in our approach. We could take the example of student A studying for an exam and believes they study better alone. Another student, B requires assistance while studying and sets up studying groups, computer study, and has other people help quiz them. These styles unique to the individual may also increase or decrease the stress level associated with each. Student A who studies alone may not have as many people to vent to about their frustrations with studying. In return, they may feel they are alone in their challenges and this promotes more stress for them.
Maybe this is about communication with your partner and having better conversations with your partner. Starting with weekly conversations about tense topics for 10 min with each partner talking about 5 min becomes the goal instead. The perception of the goal is now removed from solely resolving the conflict. The perception is focused on the best dialogue used to get their points across in under the time arranged. This also will help the couple to get used to having more conversations about things that stress them out in an organized fashion.
How goals are addressed
How goals are addressed could be to expand on how they are measured. For example, if you are adding exercise to your routine. First, maybe you measure it by regularly bringing your workout clothes with you. This doesn’t mean you guilt yourself into working out, but we break down what do the steps look like that get you towards your goals? Then those steps become the goals. We use the same couple earlier who wants to avoid tension in their conversation. IF the goal was to have better conversations, we must access what their conversation looks like now? Examples of words used to describe could be the conversation is tense or disorganized. Then goals would be to decrease the tense words, environment, etc. Then the next measurable goal would be to set up a structure to it by picking a certain time, day, or time limit to the conversation.
State of the Union
Gottman & Gottman couples therapist refers to this as State of the Union Meetings or as I like to call them, Executive meetings, so that you and your partner both feel they have opportunities to feel heard about concerns or issues. In this model, the couple meets once a week for an hour. Stretching is important here as it is in physical exercise. Couples benefit from stretching their thoughts down on paper. Before starting conversation share 5 things your partner did that you appreciate that they did for you over the week. This is important because of Gottman’s’ 5:1 ratio where it takes 5 positive things to compensate for 1 negative thing said.
How Are You Listening?
We say we are listening but how well we are listening and retaining may also be a problem. To improve conversation skills it helps to take notes of the thoughts your partner shares and your internal thoughts. This will help minimize interrupting and help keep the focus of the conversation. Make sure the environment is not tense. Remove distractions if possible, such as cell phones or work tasks. Create a relaxing environment by lighting a candle, essential oil diffuser or change of scenery. Take the talk on a walk. Recently, while grocery shopping a team meeting was called early in the morning and I heard an employee say to another one, “I hope he at least has food for us during this meeting.” So sometimes the simple comfort of addressing tense conversations could also be lightened with a snack, especially if you’re around food.