Decrease Arguments and Increase Understanding in Relationship

Decrease Arguments and Increase Understanding in Relationship

A whole experience can be regarded as a trifecta of thinking, feeling, and doing. Every day, we all walk around and bump into others’ experiences with our own, and we create more experiences and the pattern continues. Sometimes, this pattern is incredibly pleasant, and we get to feel connected to others and resourced. Other times, the pattern is fiercely dangerous to our connection, and we feel myriad feelings such as sadness, anger, hurt, and resentment. How does this happen?

Most often, the reason people experience this painful part of the pattern is because they are not taking responsibility for each point in their trifecta- responsibility for their thoughts, their feelings, and their actions. They say things like, “Well, I wouldn’t have yelled at you if you had just done what I asked you to do in the first place,” or “I wouldn’t have dismissed your opinion if I felt like you respected mine.” They almost immediately give up their integrity to another (and then punish them for it).

You might be able to identify with this pattern. So, what can you do about it? For starters, you can figure out what you want. If what you want is to be happier, more connected to your loved ones, and more understood, then you can move onto the next step. If you want to be unhappy, disconnected and misunderstood… then, don’t change anything you’re doing.

The next step is to ask yourself some questions:

1) “Why did/am I do/doing that?”

2) “How was/am I feeling?”

3) “What was/am I thinking?”

Let’s say you’re in a heated conversation with someone and you throw out the ever-loved phrase, “I wouldn’t have _______________ if you hadn’t_________.
What are you trying to communicate? (Because, give yourself some credit; I’m pretty sure you don’t think that another person can control your actions.) So, what’s going on? Were your feelings hurt? Did you feel disappointed? Is there a resentment you’ve been carrying?

It’s tempting to blame your partner (or your friend, colleague, family member) for your thoughts, feelings, and or actions, but it’s inaccurate. It’s also tempting to presume you know what they are thinking and or feeling and let this inform your actions… again, though, inaccurate. Focus on what you’re feeling, what you’re thinking, and what you’re doing.

So, after you’ve uncovered your genuine feelings and thoughts, honestly communicate them to your loved one. You can even do it in the middle of a negative pattern- “I’m sorry I yelled at you. I’m feeling so frustrated because we’ve had three conversations about how you are going to start putting your shoes away yet I came home and tripped over them again. I have no idea why this keeps happening. It makes me wonder if you don’t care or don’t take it seriously or-?”

Conversations that are heavy on taking responsibility for your experience are much more productive and fulfilling than conversations that are heavy on blame and presumption. We all want to be understood, and we’re a lot more likely to increase our chances of this when we honestly communicate our experiences.

Love and Be Loved,

Secrets to Stop Yelling and Start Talking

Secrets to Stop Yelling and Start Talking

Chances are, most of us have entered into conversation and, before long, ended up defending ourselves with variations of phrases like, “that’s not what I meant!” and “you took it the wrong way!” We have fallen prey to misunderstanding, and a discussion has become an argument. This can happen when our intention differs from our impact.

“Intent”, by Merriam-Webster’s definition, is “the state of mind with which an act is done.” Maybe our goal was to come to a better understanding, offer support, explain something, or even apologize. From the time we spoke them to the time our words were processed, our intended message was skewed. It can be confusing and strike quietly, but the difference between intent and impact can have nasty outcomes.

Merriam-Webster defines impact as “influence, effect.” We might have intended to say one thing, but we had another effect. The compliment we thought we were giving about someone’s outfit today might have been received as a derogatory statement about the outfit they wore the day before. The genuine support we thought we were offering after someone failed a test might have been received as an indication that they didn’t try hard enough.

It’s easy to become defensive of our intent when we are coming from a place of love and are met with anger or hurt feelings because of the impact our words had on a loved one. We can’t always foresee these misunderstandings and prevent them from happening because it’s not possible to predict our impact on others 100% of the time. We can, however, use methods to support a more successful recovery from these moments.

When we find ourselves in this situation, it is helpful for us to be genuinely curious about the other person’s experience. How are they feeling? What about the interaction caused them to feel like that? Being curious about the other’s experience and our impact on them will foster our understanding of what is happening and will eventually bring us closer to one another. It is not helpful to continue our attempts to show the other person how wrong they are for feeling the way they feel and different ways in which it isn’t our fault.  This will expand the divide.

It can be challenging to lead with our curiosity, but perhaps this will be motivation; 1) Practicing this interest will almost always diffuse the situation faster. 2) There is a new sense of safety in the relationship since the both members have experienced one’s wish to understand and courage to talk about what didn’t feel like it was working for them.

Often, our go-to technique is to be defensive. It’s familiar to us, and it makes us feel powerful when we think we need it most. I have not had one person come to me and say, “Wow, I’m so glad I was so defensive with my partner. It helped them feel like they could talk to me.” I have had many people come to me and say that they are glad they exercised curiosity while discussing a conflict.

Most of the time we have loving intentions, but when love is not the impact our loved one’s experience, we need to be curious about why.

Love and Be loved,