Sunday, February 15, 2009


Why is it that so often in relationships we have confusion between partners? How can we improve our time together? The one answer is communication. Although we both speak the same language, be it English or another, the meaning we assign to the words may differ according to our family of origin and culture. We may say the same words, but mean very different things by them. The result of this truth is that partners may believe that they are understood, when in fact their meaning has not actually been grasped. The outcome of this confusion is often an argument. Partners can feel any range of feelings: misunderstood, ignored, used, frustrated, angry, shamed or shocked by the response they receive.

How can we make ourselves understood? We can improve communication by learning some basic tools. We make a commitment to listen to our partner until they are finished with their thought, without forming a response. We allow ourselves to absorb what is being said to us completely. We can always take a moment to process what has been said when our partner has finished. We respond by using "I" statements. We focus on ourselves and our response to the situation as well as our feelings, while allowing our partner to have their response and feelings as well. By validating our partners feelings, we give them the gift of being heard. We cannot control what they think and feel. We let them know that they are entitled to have their feelings without restriction or shame. Once our partner feels truly heard, they may be more open to hearing us.

If we have not succeeded in clearing up the confusion with this tool we have others at our disposal. We can use "dialogue" as a communication enhancement. We listen to our partner fully, then restate what has been said in our own words. Our partner then tells us if we have understood completely. If we have not, they make further clarifications and we try again. Finally we will fully understand what has been said, along with all the underlying meaning. This process may feel awkward at first, but produces results. And isn't that is what we are after?

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