I thought I'd throw this thread back up here because it allows me to show Y-girl how great I am at not replicating threads (:P) and lots and lots of threads have been giving lots of advice to "communicate communicate communicate!"
I thought it would be good to revisit actual practical tools
for communication. It's one thing to sit in a room with a partner or friend with the goal of talking things through and communicating, but often that's not quite enough to facilitate effective communication and understanding and many dead horses can get beaten without feeling like progress is being made. Here are some techniques gathered from the meandering experiences of mine and other friends and acquaintances.
The "What's the Worst that Could Happen" Game
One married couple I know plays this game anytime one of them is about to embark on a first date with somebody new. It's kind of their way to deal with whatever fears and insecurities that arise and letting their partner know about those fears without having to set hard boundaries for each other. They begin with the assumption that their partner will make choices that honor the relationship and the needs of their spouse.
They basically tell each other the outcomes they most fear from this date. "I'm afraid that you will find this new person more interesting than me because she does these things I don't." Or "I'm afraid that you'll fall for her very quickly and make choices that make me feel less loved", or "I'm afraid you'll come home drunk". For them, they are allowed to lay any and all fears out there. The other partner is not obligated to do anything other than listen and honor those fears. They say that it does a lot to help keep them aware of their partner's goings on when embarking in a new relationship.
The Switch-Up Debate
I find this pretty effective if there's a conflict going on and people feel like they're just not getting anywhere with the talking. Basically, each person has to switch sides in the conflict. They lay out and debate the conflict from the other person's point of view. Afterwards, you both sit down and resume talking about it from your own point of view, noting what differences in perception there might have been. Generally, it works well to not set the goal of having things resolved by the end of this game. It's more about having more perspective and information and just living with it for a bit before going back into resolving the conflict.
The "This is Me When I'm Upset" tool
One of my friends who's enjoying some lovely NRE did this with her new partner (who also happens to be an old friend of hers) was recognizing that she has very different ways of handling arguments than he does. When he and his wife argue, they sort of do it "Italian Style" with some degree of yelling and brashness, but for them they're completely ok with it and it works well for them. My friend is a bit more introverted and generally feels more disturbed by such conflicts so she will usually want to intervene to make peace. In her partner's eyes, that's the worst choice.
So one day, they sat down together while all calm and happy and just laid out how these things manifest for each other. They both said things like:
- This is generally what I'm like when I'm upset about something
- This is generally what I'm like when I feel hurt
- This is generally what I'm like when I'm angry about something
- This is generally what I need from you when I'm feeling this way. (I need a day or so of space, or I need you to ask me more detailed questions or I won't be able to articulate it, or I just need a cuddle from you first before we try to resolve it, etc.)
I'll leave it at these three for now. Anybody else have any practical techniques or games or what-not that they use for communication?