Tips & Tricks
Does it often happen that you just want to talk to you partner about a problem you have and it ends up spiralling out of control into a full blown screaming match? Do you want to learn how to stop it escalating into a slinging match, well I’ve listed below a few rules that I teach my clients when they come in for couples counselling.
- Speak to your partner in the tone and volume of voice you would like to be spoken in yourself
- Use words that are respectful, non blaming and non toxic
- Don’t bring up past fights or use phrases like “you never let me finish what I’m saying” or “You always turn things around”
- Only bring up 1 subject at a time and then let the other person answer fully
- Don’t talk over the other person, let them finish what they need to say on that 1 subject, you know if you interrupt they’re not listening to you anyway, so wait until they’ve finished what they saying
- If alcohol is involved walk away, no-one thinks straight (or remembers what they’ve said) when they’ve got a skin full, resolve to talk about it when you’re both sober and able to think clearly
- Don’t ask a question if you don’t already know the answer, or if you’re trying to get a specific answer out of the other person, this is manipulative and doomed to failure because you may not like the answer you receive
- Use conflict resolution tools such as “When you ….. (eg yell and swear) I feel …. (eg scared and frightened) Because ….. (eg You’re a big man and you seem to grow bigger when you get angry)
- Own how you’re feeling, don’t blame the other person for where you are emotionally (eg You always make me feel like crap when you speak to me like a child)
- Do you want to be right or do you want to be happy? Find out what you’re really fighting about, are you just fighting for attention or is there a real problem that needs to be sorted out, that is what you both need to figure out
- And remember if you want different you have to do different, so what are you going to do differently today?
These are just a few of the skills and tools we discuss in a couples counselling sessions, usually I tailor everything to specifically help you learn to fight fair and stay out of the snake pit of toxic warfare.
So if any or all of this sounds like a great plan and you would like to start communicating in a better, more understanding and respectful way, then don’t hesitate to contact me on either 02 8090 4122, 0414 718 338 or email on Toni@TLCounselling.com.au.
Women’s brains have a larger language centre which uses both the left and right sides of her brain. Because of this higher activity women process information quicker and are better multi taskers. Women process information in a circular way, so they use more words to describe something or get their point across. They are more fluent in speech, they have more to say and use more words to say it. They also zero in on a problem. They are more likely to remember all details whether it is good or bad (women have a larger hippocampus). Women communicate to maintain relationships (rapport talk).
Men traditionally only use the left side of their brain for communication. This equates to men needing less words to get their point across, however they have the same about of words available to them, they just don’t need to use them. If you want your man to understand what you want then use bullet points not paragraphs, too many words will overwhelm your man. Usually men aren’t great at remembering emotional details because they have a smaller memory centre (hippocampus). Yet have a larger flight or fight centre (hypothalamus), this means they usually will act first and ask questions later. Men are great at mechanical and spatial things that require less words. Men communicate facts (report talk).
- Use less words, give it to him in bullet points or very short sentences, think of the destination, not the journey
- Discuss one subject at at time, more than that may overwhelm him and cause him to shut down on you
- You can ask more than once just don’t nag him, if you’re not sure how to do this ask him to give you the words that he would find helpful to remind him that a task still needs to be done
- Don’t ask your man something while he’s distracted (ie) watching TV, fixing the lawn mower, balancing the family bank account, ask him when is it a good time to talk and then plan to discuss what you want
- Don’t cut your woman off, let her finish what she needs to say, think of the journey, not the destination
- If she’s crying don’t try to fix it or stop her, just hold her and stroke her head until she stops – keep your mouth tightly shut
- Don’t try to solve her problems, just reflect back to her what you heard her say
- Don’t treat her like your buddy, she’s your lover not your mate
For both of you
- Focus on your own reactions – even though it takes two hands to clap, where you are come from matters as it is all you can control
- Do less of what hurts – it takes only 1 bad experience to wipe out 5 good ones, so if you can stop 1 bad one then the 5 good ones are still there
- Think before you leap – start to think “will what I’m about to say cause more drama? Do I want to be right or happy?
- Don’t go down the usual path – if you want different then do different, what are you going to do now that is different to what you usually do?
- Change their image of you – same as above, what are you going to do different?
- There is always more than one way to eat spaghetti – acknowledge your partners point of view, you don’t have to agree with it but you do need to acknowledge they have a right to their own opinion
- Earn brownie points – think back to times when things were good and try to do more of what you did then
- Everything in life is a compromise – what are you prepared to compromise on and is your partner prepared to do the same?
- Going to the gym – changing the way you behave is like going to the gym, you can’t get a six pack if you only go to the gym once, you have to continue to work those muscles, it’s the same with behaviours, you need to keep practicing and doing the homework
- Softening – when arguing women will tend to criticise (criticism concept) while men will tend to withdraw emotionally (stonewalling concept), so don’t begin with a criticism, start with an “I” statement about a personal problem
- Seek professional support – it’s better to act before the horse has bolted, as it can take less work to rebuild the trust that has gone
What Colour Are Your Ears?
When we try to communicate with our partners we usually find we don’t get want we want. And it’s not their fault, it’s ours. We need to let our partners know what our expectations are. We need to do this before we actually start the conversation. It can be as simple as letting them know we don’t want a solution or any advice, we just want them to listen. On the other hand if we want their advice and input we need to let them know that too. A lot of the couples I work with like the description of putting on girl or pink ears when they just want to be listened to and to put on boy or blue ears on when they want advice or solutions. It’s very simple. Men need to fix any problem we bring it to them, so give them an out. If we don’t want them to fix it then let them off the hook and ask them specifically to just listen. It’s as simple and easy as that. Give it a go, what colour ears are you in need of right now?