Communication Article 2 and Continuation of Article part 1
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Where Article 1 left off:
Don’t fall into the trap of accusing your partner of things. Instead, tell them what you need. Here’s two scenarios:
1.) You always leave the toilet seat up.
2.) I need you to put the toilet seat down.
When you use the second statement, you don’t accuse your husband of anything, you simply state a need. This is far less threatening.
These are so called “I” statements. When you say what you need rather than tell your partner that he has deficiencies, you are more likely to get him to cooperate. Why put him on the defensive? Instead, allow him the opportunity to please you.
Another tip is to frame your questions so your partner can answer them with the information you need. If you have a “strong silent type” for a partner who likes to give “yes” and “no” answers, this is a useful communication technique.
Consider the following two scenarios:
1.) Do you want to go to the barbeque this weekend?
2.) I’m getting the idea that you don’t want to go to the barbeque. Can you tell me why not?
The first statement will elicit a yes or no answer that doesn’t give you any good information. The second asks for your partner’s reasoning process.
Direct communication means that you don’t drop hints, cajole, say one thing when you mean another, and engage in verbal manipulation. All of these are barriers to clear understanding. When you communicate indirectly, you will undoubtedly have misunderstandings and resentments because neither person feels understood or accepted by the other.
Consider this conversation:
Wife: I want to go to Hawaii on vacation.
Husband: I want to go to New York instead.
Wife: The beaches in Hawaii are so beautiful.
Husband: Not only are there great tourist sights to take in during the day, we can go to Broadway shows at night. Also, I’d love to take in a game at the new Yankee stadium.
Wife: American Airlines has a special on flights to Hawaii right now.
This couple is just talking past each other. They might as well go on separate vacations for all their conversation is worth.
As important as it is to say what you want, it is also important to hear what your partner is saying. In a conversation, you shouldn’t be just waiting for a time to get your next word in. You should try to understand what your partner is saying.
Part of this is merely courtesy. Once you have had the opportunity to state a position, your partner has the right to state his. It is only in the give and take that you can find a position that makes sense in terms of the larger relationship. Active listening means that you process what your partner is really saying.
And this goes beyond mere words. Observe the body language and gestures that the speaker makes. It is not unusual for words to convey one message and body language to signal another. When there is a disconnect between words and body language, you should ask what is really going on.
Article 3 in this series of article on communication will go into “Body Language”.