Natural and Spontaneous Communication: Are we feeling heard?

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Usually we talk to our partner in a natural way. In a spontaneous way. The words just come and we say them. We use whatever words are near. Unfortunately, this does not always work. Sometimes it can turn into conflict.

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Some couples struggle to discuss frustrations in natural and spontaneous ways. Our words are not well received. Each partner may feel that their words have not been heard.

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The natural and spontaneous communication can escalate into frustration and words of conflict. Perhaps neither partner feels heard.

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When You Don’t Feel Heard

When the natural and spontaneous dialog no longer works, we can try something else. We can communicate more intentionally.

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Intentionally speaking to each other can help each other to ‘feel heard’ without the escalation into conflict. The Reciever can help The Speaker to feel heard.

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The Receiver can do this by reflecting The Speaker’s words. Reflecting is something The Reciever does. Reflective Listening is an intentional way to help each other to feel heard.

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It is thought that Reflective Listening works because we use the speaker’s words. It works beause we do not rephrase their words into our words. Because we repeat the speaker’s words back to them with preciseness. With exactness. And they will hear their own words from you. Without changing the words. Without softening their words. So the meaning stay intact.

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The Receiver

There are two roles in a couple conversation. The The Speaker Role, and The Reciever Role. When we receive words, use only the words and phrases The Speaker uses. We not rephrase in our own words. We simply reflect back what they said, using their words.

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Change Pronouns

When the speaker says ‘I’, reflect that back as ‘you’. That’s because they are speaking about themselves. So we change the pronouns.

Example A

Speaker: I went to the beach.

Receiver: You went to the beach.

Example B

Speaker: You told me to leave.

Receiver: I told you to leave.

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Tell Yourself These Things

When you are in The Receiver Role, tell yourself to simply reflect back what The Speaker is saying. Tell yourself not to react.

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Tell yourself that you are just helping The Speaker to feel heard.

Tell yourself that you do not own what they say. You do not have to believe what they say. You do not have to correct what The Speaker says. You only have to help them feel heard. That’s all.

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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
  • React only with sincere curiosity
  • You do not have to believe what they say
  • 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 de-railed
  • Stay on the tracks. Stay in the process.

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Practice for 15 Minutes/day

To become fluent in the relationship skill of reflective listenting, you could set aside 15 minutes a day to practice. You could practice every day with your partner for the next 7 days. Find a time that works for you both.

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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.

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Pass The Batton

Pass the batton after you have had your turn. Passing The Batton is a metaphor. We don’t use a real batton. It just means we exchange roles.

  • Will you have a turn as The Speaker? (Or, can I be The Speaker).

Practice every day for 15 minutes. Stay in the process to help your partner to feel heard. This may bring goodwill to The Relationship.

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When to Reflect

You become aware that something has entered the relationship and you choose to be non-defensive. This awareness is helpful. When anger, frustration, dissappointment or any difficult emotion seems to be present, you can choose a non-defensive response. Just reflect. Help your partner to feel heard.

Use reflecting often, daily.