Alternative Communication Strategies
1. Practice 'Listening Does Not Equal Agreement or Obedience'
Many people often hate listening because it makes them feel defensive or pressured or they think it obligates them to obey, condone or agree. To start with, use the phrases below to clarify that listening does not equal obedience. That way it will be easier for you to listen and allow the person to speak. Accept your loved one's attempts at communicating with you, however imperfect.
Adopt an attitude that says, I honor and love you as a person even though I may not agree with what you are saying right now.
To implement, say something like:
Wow! Take a moment to feel how you would feel if your lover said this to you... You could hardly get an adrenaline hit... ready to escalate a fight after that, correct?
With this one simple statement you are obstructing the feedback loop that may have been in operation for some time in your relationship making you miserable. Other benefits of this intervention or strategy are protecting yourself by establishing appropriate boundaries, and making the other person feel so happy that they are being listened to. The other person has a sense that you are respecting them and their point of view, simply by listening. This causes a calming effect and reduction of biological processes that are unconsciously getting you both ready to fight-or-flight.
2. Give Attention
Show you care by giving your attention and unconditional positive regard. Your attention is the first and most important strategy of communication. Make sure to keep this basic idea in mind.
3. Monitor Non-Verbal Communication
If you're yawning, looking away, scowling or crossing your arms across your chest even though your phone is turned off, you're still giving the message that you're not that interested, or even hostile to what's being said.
4. Repeat and Paraphrase, Check the Accuracy of Your Perceptions
The object is:
Repeating and Paraphrasing also makes sure you don't overreact or misunderstand key points of what is being communicated.
Try phrases like:
5. Manage Your Defensiveness
...and keep your attention focused on the other person's process until he or she is completely done talking, and he or she has relaxed a bit.
Try responses such as:
6. Encourage the Other Person to Talk
Even if you're annoyed about what the other person is saying, you can at least extend the courtesy of letting them tell you what is important right now by encouraging them to vent. Just this much will help everyone feel less stressed. You can relax into your power, you are you, you don't have to particularly change anything, but you are giving respect. This is much better than basically ignoring what the other person is saying while simultaneously thinking up ways to protect yourself or make the kill shot. You can relax and listen, you don't really have to make your points right now. Learn to listen and understand without feeling pressured to obey. Once you have fully listened the other person will be completely relieved and ready to listen to you... and will probably do anything you say.
7. Give Yourself an Out
If things are getting heated, and you have decided to change out of negative communication patterns, try:
It's a good idea to give your relationship a tune-up by investing in a few sessions of therapy. Every relationship can be made better and no relationship is going to be perfect.
1600 Rosecrans Avenue
Manhattan Beach, CA 90266