Communication with your partner: a cheat sheet

By Greg Douglas, LPC

Healthy communication is one of the most important pieces in any successful relationship. Below are some of my favorite strategies and ideas for good communication.

  1. Is this more about them or more about me?

When your partner speaks out to question you or your behavior, ask yourself this simple question. Is this more about them or more about me? Don’t just assume that you are being targeted. Most of the time the reason we need to speak out is because we don’t feel so good about something ourselves. Asking this question helps you to not immediately go on the defensive and allows you to stay open and engaged to truly hear your partner’s concerns.

2. What part of this message is true?

Do we listen for what basically seems true about our partner’s statement or do we look for and focus on the part of their message that seems false? Most of us listen for what doesn’t make sense and respond to that. This leads to a conversation about what we disagree on. Not a great strategy! Instead, focus on the part of your partner’s statement that makes sense and respond to that.

3. Pull back the curtain

Poor communication often exists on the surface level and doesn’t go deeper into the honest experience one has. Think about pulling back the curtain and showing your partner how things truly look for you. Maybe you typically show anger and frustration, but deep-down feel hurt and alone. The more you open up and speak from an authentic place, the more your partner will know, and this leads to responsiveness and empathy.

4. Be kind and honest

Some people are honest, others are kind, but few manage to be both. Being kind and honest means speaking your truth, but doing it from a place of respect, caring, and empathy. Imagine approaching your partner from a position of “same as” meaning you are no better or worse than them, just equal. Being kind keeps your partner engaged and being honest speaks to the real issue.

5. Connection over protection

When couples get stuck, they tend to operate from a place that ensures their protection but blocks connection. When we self-protect we choose emotional safety over relational connection. Showing vulnerability opens up avenues to connect and places the value on connection and bonding. 

Greg Douglas, LPC takes couples from the brink of divorce and separation to a renewed sense of hope, intimacy and connection. Contact us to schedule a virtual session today.

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