Relationship Tips: Getting Your Partner To Listen

April 9, 2011
Author: KLTBrown

wifescoldinghusbandConflicts between you and your partner are inevitable. But how you handle these conflicts will determine your level of happiness together and the ultimate success of your relationship. There’s plenty of  relationship advice out there for handling conflicts.  Many relationship experts will give you countless tips on how to avoid relationship conflicts altogether. But hopefully by now you understand that relationship conflicts are a part of growing together and are not to be avoided, but rather successfully managed. It has been my experience that countless couples have successfully managed their conflicts by making one powerful yet surprisingly simple communication tweak : Both partners choose to use “I” statements instead of “you” statements.

Now most will say they’ve heard this before and know it has to do with owning their own stuff and not pointing the finger at their partner. But there’s a lot more involved and when you talk to the average person most will admit that they don’t really practice this technique or reap its full benefits very often.

An “I” statement is this:  “I am sharing my experience concerning this conflict situation. Therefore, no one is more qualified to be an expert on me and my experience. So when I say “I”, this allows me cover anything about this conflict. Anything about my perceptions, fears, concerns, or desires. I can discuss my contribution to the problem and my contribution to the resolution of it.  I can cover multiple bases without running the risk of that judgmental, critical,  evaluative thing that happens when I speak up about your intentions, motivations, using you behavior as evidence.”

For those of us who need the cookies lowered so we can reach them (i.e. you didn’t understand that last paragraph) don’t feel bad. I’ll give you an example I think all of us can understand.   An “I” statement goes like this:  “When you raise your voice the way you just did, I feel defensive. I start to get annoyed and I feel like walking away.”   Using the “I” statement, I have stated the issue about the volume being raised but I didn’t judge you.  Nothing I said was subject to interpretation.  I stated a simple fact.  Even in the heat of conflict, a fact cannot be disputed.

When I maintain the perspective of “I”, it means I can say anything about the  impact this is having on me without judging you. But on the other hand, when I express those same experiences using “you” statements, this sets me up for angry outbursts of  “You don’t know what you’re talking about,” or “Quit telling me what I think, you don’t know what I think.”

A variation of the “I” statement is the “my” statement – my perception, my feeling, my hunch, etc. For example:  “It’s my perception that you’re angry with me.” or “My perception when you walk away, is that you’re not interested in talking.” This is received much better than the statements, “I can tell you’re angry with me.” or “I can tell you’re not interested in talking.”  These statements are bound to cause an argument and the discussion will shutdown.

With an “I” statement or “my” statement, it takes all the guessing out of the situation. You have cut right to the chase and said what you meant. You have given the whole package: 1) Here’s what happened. 2) Here’s my interpretation, 3) Here’s how I feel about it. 4) Here’s my request. This will put you a lot closer to conflict resolution, kissing and making up, and moving on to that perfect relationship.

Practice this technique before your next argument and you’ll both come out winners.

Hope it helps,

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