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Couple’s Communication 101

Dr Andre, Why can’t I communicate with my partner?

 

“We just can’t seem to communicate!” I hear this often in sessions with couples. Here are a few pointers that I always offer my clients who struggle with communication.

First of all, we need to understand the differences in the way men and women communicate. Men are generally far more concrete and linear in their thoughts and statements, whereas women are more abstract and detailed. For men, YES and NO are perfectly acceptable answers. Women, however, are more likely to respond with more information. For example, when a lady asks a man if she looks OK in a particular dress, a man believes he has answered her question when he responds with “yes” or “no”. Another female is more likely to respond to the same question with, “Well, I like the color of the dress, but…”

A gifted communicator knows how to listen.

Another communication challenge happens when a man asks a woman what is wrong and she answers “nothing”. He usually believes her! This does not mean he doesn’t care about her. Men are just not good mind readers. Ladies, they depend on you to tell them what you want or need. But, remember, we all get the best results when we speak in the “I” rather than “you”. Starting a statement with “you” tends to put the other person on the defensive because it has an accusatory tone. And, let’s not forget tone and timing are very important.

A gifted communicator knows how to listen. Men, by nature, are problem solvers. Women vent their feelings and problems to men who in turn have the urge to fix the problem. Great news, guys!  You don’t have to fix it – just listen. Listen without judgment. She just needs to get it off her chest.

Great news, guys!  You don’t have to fix it – just listen.

Finally, have you ever heard of QTIPS? It’s the acronym for Quit Taking It Personally, Silly. We all need to remember that not all problems are about us; so, let’s not assume he or she is angry at or disappointed with us. Your partner’s attitude or expression may be the result of something that happened at work or with someone else. Just ask, “You look upset. Is this about me?” When you respond with openness, your partner will feel safer to share with you. However, if the problem is about you, remember tone and timing. We can say almost anything when we say it with kindness and respect.

…remember tone and timing.

For more in-depth help with relationship and communication challenges, our therapists at Northshore Counseling and Wellness and always happy to help you be your best self. Please call our office for an appointment. We’re located in Metairie (504) 717-4043 or Mandeville (985) 624-2942

-Dr. Andre Sagrera Judice, Ph.D., LPC, LMFT, DCEP

Contributed by Janis Caserta, LPC, LAC

 

 

How do I get my point across without sounding angry?

How do I get my point across without sounding angry?

 The best way to get another person to really hear what we are trying to say consists of two main actions.  

  1. Never try to get an important point across when either of you is angry, but especially when the other person is angry.  If you are angry, the person is going to be defensive because of your anger, and not really focus on what you are saying.  If they do hear what you are saying, they are likely to just dismiss it out of defensiveness.  If the other person is angry, they are too overwhelmed by their own cortisol levels (our stress hormone) for their brain to be able to receive any input anyway.  So the best course of action is to wait to discuss it until both of you are calmed down and able to remain calm when talking about it.
  2. When you do discuss your point, use what we call “I language.”  Talk about your feelings, your goals, and what is or is not working for you.  Talk about yourself, aka “I.”  So instead of saying, “Why do you always take the kids’ side?  You know that pisses me off”, you would say “When i hear you say that I am too harsh of a parent, I assume you are taking the kids’ side instead of finding a way to work with me on this.  Is this right?  I get really frustrated because it is important to me that we are united in our parenting.  I worry that we won’t be good at standing together in situations like this.”  Obviously, the second response is much easier the other person to hear and respond to.  It makes him/her much less defensive because you are not putting him/her on the hot seat.  Instead you are just explaining your concerns and inviting them to talk with you about it.

Try saying “I feel this way about…” instead of “Why do YOU always….”

Contributed by  Michelle Haeur