How To Talk Again
How to talk about your relationship and difficult issues when talking with your partner no longer seems to work.
At times a couple may struggle to talk about triggering issues. When this struggle happens, the couple can communicate about hot topics in a structured couple dialog.
The structured couple dialog can help each other to talk about the issues without the escalation into conflict.
One person takes the speaking position. The other person takes the receiving position where they receive the speaker’s words. So there are two positions. You take turns during the couple dialog process.
From these two positions, every conversation is about real things and real issues. Nothing is fictional (made-up) even when practicing.
When we receive words, we use only the words and phrases The Speaker says.
The Receiver tries to reflect The Speaker’s words, back to them. Reflecting is something The Receiver does to help them feel that all their words are heard. It is thought that Reflective Listening works because we use only the speaker’s words.
To help The Speaker to feel heard, we do not rephrase their words into our words. When The Receiver repeats The Speaker’s words back to them with exactness, The Receiver will likely feel that their words have been heard.
The Speaker will hear their own words from you, without changing the words they have said; without softening their words; so the meaning stays intact.
When the speaker says ‘I’, reflect that back as ‘you’. That’s because they are speaking about themselves. So we change the pronouns.
Speaker: I went to the beach.
Receiver: You went to the beach.
MindTalk is what you tell yourself in your head. It’s the voice that helps you to keep your position.
When you are in The Receiver Position, tell yourself to simply reflect back what The Speaker is saying.
Tell yourself not to react to their words.
Tell yourself that you are just helping The Speaker to feel heard. You do not add your words to The Speaker’s words. You do not correct what The Speaker says. You only have to help them to feel heard, that’s all.
When receiving their words, this is what you strive to do.
- Reflect back their words
- Do not leave any of their words out
- Do not add any words of your own
- Help them to feel heard
- Do not correct their words
- Remember that it is not about you
- It is only about helping them to feel heard
- Even if you feel triggered, hold firm to the process
- Do not allow the dialog to get derailed
- Stay on the tracks. Stay in the process.
Practice for 15 Minutes/day
To become fluent in the relationship skill of reflective listening, you could set aside 15 minutes a day to practice. You could practice every day with your partner for 7 consecutive days. Find a time that works for you both.
To start practicing reflecting, ask the two consent questions‘. The two consent questions are scripted phrases. They are questions asking for consent. Ask your partner:
- Is now a good time to talk?
- Can I be The Speaker?
You could ask “Will you be the speaker?” instead. These are the two consent questions. Ask them everyday to initiate a couple dialog.
Pass The Baton
Pass the baton after you have had your turn. Passing The Baton is a metaphor. We don’t use a real baton. It just means we exchange roles.
- Will you take a turn as The Speaker? (Or, can I be The Speaker).