7 Ways You Can Communicate Better with Your Significant OtherSep 03, 2020
When we’re having communication problems with someone we care about, it can be frustrating, it can hurt, and it can have us feeling defensive. I’m going to tell you give all of that up, including your pride, and learn to listen to your partner to get to the root of the issue. Here are a few tips.
Focus. Look your partner in the eyes and give all of your attention. Observe your tendency to get out of the connection.
Monitor your thought. As your partner speaks, are you listening or thinking of your response? Are you evaluating what he is saying? Stop that and just allow what your partner is feeling to sink in—to become your experience. Try to get inside his experience and feel what it is like to be him at that moment. Ask yourself how you would feel if you were in his shoes.
Respond nonverbally. Are you nodding or saying “hmm,” or something to let her know you are tracking? Let her know you are with her and truly listening.
Watch your defensiveness. If you are feeling defensive, by all means, do not say anything. Count to twenty. If you need a timeout, take one and go away until you cool off. Do not defend yourself or counterattack.
Empathize. Communicate back what you have heard: “So, Amy, you really feel by yourself, even when I am here. Wow.” Use the formula: content + feelings = being understood. In other words, repeat back to your partner her content and what you understand her feeling to be:
- ”With all the work you have to do, it’s really feeling overwhelming.”
- ”So, the way the kids act when I’m not here is just too much sometimes.”
- ”Yeah, I see. When I have to work a lot, you begin to feel that you don’t matter to me as much as my job.”
- ”So when I want sex and we haven’t really talked, you feel kind of used.”
- ”It’s like so much is being asked of you that you just want to hide or run.”
- ”That’s awful, I don’t want you to be in a place like that.”
- Check it out. Ask your partner what you do that keeps her from feeling listened to. Check it out in the moment and ask, “Do you feel that I am hearing you?”
Don’t try to fix it. Avoid advice, explaining, or trying immediately to make the feelings go away. There will be a time for that. Connect first just through hearing.
Don’t make it about you. Don’t answer with something about yourself. Listening is about the other person. “Oh, I know how you feel. The other day when my boss did that…” At this moment, who cares what your boss did? This is about the other person, not you.
Connection Equals Being Known
As I have said, reconnecting with each other involves your hearts being known. And there is no way to be known if you are not listening to each other. Remember, the more you listen and draw out those deep waters from your lover, the more you will know each other and re-establish the connection and love life you desire.