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CounselorJules, Counselor
Category: Relationship
Satisfied Customers: 765
Experience:  Licensed Professional Counselor
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How can a couple improve their communication skills?

Customer Question

How can a couple improve their communication skills?
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Relationship
Expert:  CounselorJules replied 1 year ago.
Good evening :) I hope I can help you today. Bare with me while I provide you with a thorough answer!
Expert:  CounselorJules replied 1 year ago.
The first thing that I will suggest is that you understand which emotion you mostly want to express in the conversation. i think in a relationship and in communication you have to focus on the goal of the conversation. You have to "think from the end" and think of the solution or result that you mostly want.I am a big fan of Jack Canfield, he has the books "Chicken Soup for The Soul." He talks about the "Law of Attraction" and using a simple equation to help us realize our goals and focus on achieving the things that we want. It is E+R=O. Events +Response= outcome. In life, we cannot always control the events that occur, but we can focus on what we want long term (outcome). So first, decide what it is that you want. Write it down and be very specific about the relationship, career, personal goals, etc that you have. Then think of every possible event that can affect your achievement of this. Then take the time to create potential responses to these. It creates a safety plan or at least some sort of tool that you have in your "toolbox" to help you continue to achieve that preferred outcome. It may sound silly. But I think it is always a good idea to feel prepared-- it tends to ease some anxiety too. It also keeps you "congruent" or from reacting or overreacting when something comes up.I also think that conflict creates opportunity and with opportunity there is a responsibility. You have to think about the freedoms that we take in relationships too. You don't want to abuse your role in a relationship. I will send some tips about conflict and healthy communication and a style that I teach in the clinic where I work.There is no need to fear fighting, it is healthy— it open communication and leads to resolution. Often conflict shows us where we can or need to grow.When fighting, focus on the issue— not the person. you cannot attack someone’s character or go after their past mistakes to make them feel bad. You have to remain open to their statements and how it can be solution focused. It’s enough to deal with the problem without adding the new problem of hurting each other’s feelings.Also, listen to the other person when they are communicating. Be aware of your body language and tone when communicating. Sometimes we don’t realize that we begin to assert ourselves loudly and that escalates the situation. So talk softly and make eye contact. Be honest and vulnerable. His own vulnerability with you leads me to recognize he truly trusts you....It is also easy to be defensive, and it would seem natural to want to justify your feelings. Try to be curious about what they are saying, but not with sarcasm. Be sincere.Fighting ends when cooperation begins. Ask for options, ask what you can do to adjust your role and show empathy? Offering alternatives of your own shows that you also are willing to try something different and work toward a collaboration with him.Take ownership of your role too, make concessions to him about your fears and feelings. If you give a little, it makes room for the other person to make concessions too. This isn’t about scorekeeping. It’s about finding a solution that is workable for both of you.Be vulnerable and remember that anger is a secondary emotion that protects us when we are hurting, disappointed or scared….You can focus on how you can use your insecurity or even conflict to create intimacy, but you have to do this through honesty and vulnerability, rather than focusing on your anger. Sometimes we are reactive when we feel insecure. We really want to understand, but instead we react.There is a difference in responding and reacting. Something you can try is going with what I call the "oreo" method in communication. You start with a positive (or a validation), move to a behavior that you want addressed, then ask in a positive manner for their opinion or suggestion in how to manage the situation..... So for you you could say something like "Honey, I know that I love you. I am aware that maybe when I have come to talk to you in the past it may have felt as though I was nagging or even criticizing. You do many things right in this relationship and I know that I also need to focus on those, but I guess there are some times that I have insecurities and I just want to communicate with you about how I have been hurting. I dont want to fight. I want to talk. I know it may feel like I am picking a fight, but my interest is in helping us grow closer. I hope we can make this conflict an opportunity to improve the things in our relationship so that we dont fall into patterns that lead us to forget how much we love each other."That is simply an example, but it takes ownership and doesn't make the person feel as defensive. Let me know what you think :)
Expert:  CounselorJules replied 1 year ago.
I just wanted to follow back up with you and find out your opinion of the answer provided. My goal was to give you excellent service and i would hate to leave you dissatisfied :)

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