Relationship communication can be very difficult, even in the best of times. When disagreements occur, the contrasts between personalities is not only magnified, but can be profound. Two people from different backgrounds are arguing about their differing views of something that took place.
There are a few thoughts I want to share with you so that your disagreements are minimized and you can concentrate on what is really important…each other!
- Empathy. I cannot overemphasize how critical this is. Approach every conversation by understanding your lover’s position/situation/feelings. do this even if you think he/she is in the wrong; approach the conversation judgment-free. When the person states “I feel…” you can answer to it but not attack it. You cannot change how they feel but you can look at how you contribute to them feeling this way and take responsibility; this does not make you wrong.
- Listen and Absorb. The most important aspect of a conversation is the amount of time a partner listens and absorbs. This is not the time to be defensive or offensive, it is the time to truly understand your partner.
- Do not interrupt. One of the worst things you can do in a conversation of any nature is to intentionally interrupt. There is normal interruption, but that is part of conversational flow. There is requested interruption, such as where a fact or factual assumption must be corrected before the conversation goes on in the wrong direction. The interruption in a relationship communication is often the type where one person wants to either dominate or prevent the other person from completing their thought expression. This is damaging and should be avoided. Even worse, when one person tells the other they know what the person is thinking, then the conversation should most likely not take place as nothing of value will emerge.
- Do not generalize. If something happened once or twice, say so, do not ever use the terms “you always” or “we always” as it is most likely not accurate and only irritates your partner.
- Do not try to have a conversation from the perspective of having to be right. If you listen to the other person, being right, you will realize, has no purpose. After all, you love that person, don’t you? If so, your goal should be to understand their position; having to be right is contrary to that goal.
- Avoid visual and auditory gestures of any kind; reactions are only magnified went conversation is heated. The other issue to consider is they are usually offensive to the other party. Sometimes they will slip, but try to consciously be aware of them and monitor them. A conversation of this nature is difficult enough without adding the normal items that can cause the conversation to be even more difficult and take on sub-conversations.
- Be accurate. If you state something took place be accurate, do not mention if you’re not sure. This is more the case if the other party remembers it differently.
- Don’t blame. If a person is opening up to you, they are trying to solve the problem. It may be possible that this was 80% your fault. Listen. Do not turn the conversation to something your lover did wrong.
- Take responsibility for your actions that caused this disagreement. Own the fact that you are not perfect and you make mistakes too. If you cannot take responsibility then work on yourself as this is a serious impediment to the growth of a relationship.
- Do not try to find a way to make the disagreement the other person’s responsibility. That is the worst thing you can do in a conversation.
- Try not to make the other person feel guilty of doing something that hurt you; they can do this by themselves. Some people like to make their point and then anchor a feeling of guilt to their lover. This is not necessary. Don’t underestimate your lover. Although he or she may be holding their ground in this conversation, they will go over it when it ends and where they will see that certain things were within their control and they erred, they will feel guilty enough without your help.
- Do not raise your voice.