Last week we covered the keys to listening well, this week we are covering the other side of communication…talking (which by the way should be done less than listening). 🙂
When working to improve our communication it’s important to be aware of what we are saying and how we are saying it, so again remember your non-verbals, facial expressions, tone/volume of voice & body language.
Keys to Talking Well
- Know thyself – take ownership for your feelings and plan how to communicate them clearly to your spouse
- Avoid over-generalizations – these sound like “you always____” or “you never ______” these types of statements are very rarely true of someone (did you see how I avoided using an always/never there?)
- Stay in the present, avoid bringing up the past – it can be so easy, especially in the heat of the moment, to bring up other situations from the past that trigger the same feelings you are currently having, don’t do it! Stay in the present and deal with this one situation so you don’t pile on other stuff. Once you’ve worked it through, you have to choose to let it go and not continually bring it up.
- Utilize “I feel” statements – this is a very structured way of speaking that helps you to do the above recommendations.
(Check out how to have difficult conversations for more on this)
How do we construct a solid “I feel” statement? It’s a 3 step process.
Step 1: “I feel________________” this is where you identify your feeling, “sad”, “lonely”, “happy”. This is not “I feel when…or I feel you…” Those are just blaming statements cloaked as an “I feel” statement.
Step 2: “when _________________” this is where you provide a specific example of when you felt your feeling. Be very careful not to use this time to bring up several incidents from the past here. This is one event.
Step 3: “because_______________” this is where you express why you feel the way you do. Be very careful not to over-generalize here by making always/never statements.
Example: I feel neglected when I’m at home alone in the evenings because I miss spending quality time with you before bed.
If this process is new to you, it may feel unnatural, or potentially engenuine………I know this can feel forced and stiff but the more you practice the more natural it will become.
There’s nothing wrong with planning out exactly what it is you want to say. Think about a work presentation…do you just walk in the day of and say whatever you want? Yeah right!! You spend hours prepping for the project, researching your audience, creating statements and examples that express exactly what you want. If we go to that extent for others, why wouldn’t we do this for our life partner, the person we love and cherish above all others? How many conflicts would we be spared if we did this more often? I, for one, do better when I plan what I want/need to say rather than just speaking off the cuff. It has prevented many hurt feelings and miscommunication between Michael and I.
Our challenge for you is to try using these keys to talking well in conjunction with the keys to listening well and let us know how your intimacy is impacted.