December 19, 2011 at 11:04 am #243Neil WarnerMember
- Do you really understand what messages your spouse is sending you?
- Do you know how to signal back that you received a message and it was well understood?
- Do you know how to get your messages understood by your Spouse?
This week we are going to check out some techniques to make communication more fluent and less emotional. In the document “How to Listen to Each Other” we will cover:
- The importance of listening
- How to speak and listen
- The importance of an equal opportunity environment
- Doing reflective listening.
Download the document “How to Listen to Each Other” Regards, NeilDecember 19, 2011 at 6:23 pm #255smMember
Sorry. I actually laughed out loud due to the irony of this forum and the current situation I find myself in. I have read similar advise and tried to put it into use. Choosing to frame discussion around key phrases such as “I feel…” “I think…” has resulted in accusations of “It’s all about you”. “You only think about your feelings”. “Its your thoughts, opinions, and feelings that have got us in this situation…and I don’t care”. This is not the root of our issues, but communication and listening…REALLY LISTENING… is a serious problem that has complicated our situation beyound reason. We can not even agree on whether OUR communication is a problem. Apparently communication is my problem. There is no doubt in my mind that WE do not communicate because we are both busy forming our reply well before the other is finished speaking. I know I am guilty of this. My spouse does not see this. My spouses favourite response to discussions is “so what you’re really saying is…”. I would be interested to hear suggestions on this. It is the most frustrating phrase I can be hit with. It is not a matter of re phrasing the discussion so we both understand. It is an edit which completely changes the meaning or severity of a discussion. “Johnny said he did not mean to offend you”. “So what your really saying is what he did was OK and you are good with that”.
Any thoughts are appreciated. Maybe a little off topic.December 20, 2011 at 8:55 am #256Neil WarnerMember
From your post I can observe that you are in a difficult position, and I want to thank you for opening up, and sharing your story.
The sentence “…And I don’t care got my attention.
Not knowing the complete story, This comment let me thinking that your relationship may have accumulated a lot of ‘steam’. And until some of that steam is released, you will not see much progress, if any.
The other thing, is the use of “I feel” statements. Although this technique works great, if you over do it, it’s not longer effective.
We, ‘men’ can only take “feelings” in small doses. if someone drops a long list of “I feel this” and “I feel that” in the same conversation, to a man, he will possible take the first and may be half of the second… No that we don’t care, but being problem oriented, and sequential, we will take as much ‘feelings’ as we think we can do something about.
One subtle thing you can do:
Do not talk, but write. Take a paper, and write a single sentence about your feelings. Make sure that it’s not written as an accusation, like “You make me feel …”, or “because of your action, I felt”. Stay with the facts, and your own feelings.
Now the difficult part:
Then add a sentence, of something that your partner did, that make you feel good. Even if it’s “Your smile make me feel good”. But find something.
Then end the note, with an expression of the shared love, like ‘to my loving husband’.
Find a fish bowl and let him know that you will be putting the messages there for him, and that you will really appreciate if he could read them, and write his own.
Neil WarnerDecember 21, 2011 at 1:27 pm #260norafemMember
Dear SM, When you carefully select to say: “I feel…” “I think…” what you are doing is avoiding comments that begin with accusations like: “You are…selfish, or uncaring,” or anything that put the blame on him. It shows that you are careful not to blame; so if he says: “It’s all about you”. “You only think about your feelings”. “Its your thoughts, opinions, and feelings that have got us in this situation…and I don’t care”. you have to remember that in your phrase you linked your feelings with his behavior.
It is not your feelings that got us into this situation; it was his behaviors which in turn provoked your response, your feelings.
Please, don’t get confused by his way of talking and continue saying:
“When you do X (attacking me with words) I feel (very sad) because it describes me in a way that demeans me.”
REMEMBER THE COMPLETE WAY OF SPEAKING IN THIS WAY:
WHEN YOU (describe his behavior in objective ways: make fun of me with your family)
I FEEL (here describe your feelings)
BECAUSE (here describe the consequences of his behaviors: you family will have no respect for me in the future).
With respect of his habit of hijacking the phrase: “What I hear you saying…” it shows that he is using this tool in a very manipulatory way.
You say: “My spouse’s favourite response to discussions is “so what you’re really saying is…”. I would be interested to hear suggestions on this. It is the most frustrating phrase I can be hit with. It is not a matter of re phrasing the discussion so we both understand. It is an edit which completely changes the meaning or severity of a discussion.”
Let me explain here briefly that, unbeknown to us, there is an active battle for control of the meaning of the conversation. If his meaning wins, yours lost. You need to be clear, and ask yourself constantly: “what is the issue we are talking about?” If the answer is “planning holidays with family” then you know that any deviation will carry you away from your purpose of planning the holidays. If he uses the phrase “what you are really saying is…” then try to practice this response: “I’m clearly saying that we need to organize how to spend the holidays with our families. If you translate my words into something different, you are hearing my words in the wrong way. Can we go back to the real issue here and now?” Don’t let him derail the issue at hand with snappy comments. Have the courage to stop him, challenge his phrase and decide by yourself what is that you “really” are saying…
Sometimes using a bit of repetition helps: “I hear what you say, and we need to go back to the issue of time with our families in the holidays…” If you stick to this like a broken record, is more difficult for him to derail you and impose his own meaning to sabotage the original meaning you two started with at the beginning of the conversation.
I know doing this is hard, but gives you some power back; the power of defining what you want to talk about and when to do it. Good luck!
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