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Communicating Effectively

  1. Listen openly

  2. Clarify your understanding

  3. Know when a timeout is needed

  4. Ensure a resolution is determinedListen openly--When you listen openly, you are listening without a rebuttal or preconceived idea related to the conversation. Listening openly requires you to hear what the person is saying. You listen with the intention of gaining an understanding of what your partner is conveying. When you listen openly, you are listening judgement free. Basically, you listen without judging what your spouse is saying. Clarify your understanding--People often joke about paraphrasing or clarifying meaning. (It's interesting that many major corporations promote clarifying meaning in their corporate environment, especially those involving negotiations.)  Based on our experiences and emotions, we tend to apply our own unique filter to everything we hear and accept. Therefore, without clarifying your understanding, you will very likely hear something different from what your spouse is saying based on your filter of experiences and emotions. For example, your spouse says, “I don't feel like going to the party.” Depending on how you are feeling and what you have  experienced, you may very likely hear, “I don't want to go to the party with you.” Clarifying is simply checking for understanding of what the person said. Therefore, from the example, you might ask, “You don't feel like going to the party tonight?” For further understanding, you may follow up with, “May I ask why or what is wrong?” Know when a timeout is needed—It is really important to take the time to cool down or get in the right frame of mind when talking to your spouse. Whether you are angry, frustrated, or just plain irritated, you need a minute to actually process/ understand what you are feeling before speaking. When you take the time to understand what has been said or done, you are able to respond or share your thoughts in a rational manner. Without a cooling off period, people say and do irrational and usually regrettable things. So, take a few minutes (up to a limit though) to sit with your feelings and thoughts before trying to communicate. You can call a time out for yourself  or suggest one for your spouse. You should both agree on this method first. Ensure a resolution is determined—All too often, couples complain that the same issues arise repeatedly. The problem is that resolution to the issues never occurs. Without effective communication, resolving any issue is problematic. So how do you begin resolving issues? Begin by listening openly to your spouse, sharing your point of view, clarifying for understanding, and brainstorming solutions. As you brainstorm,  remember to just throw out ideas without judging them. After you have a list of ideas, then you can examine the reasonableness of your ideas. Understand that compromise will very likely be necessary. Therefore, be open throughout the process. Reduce some of the stress with your spouse by communicating effectively. Start by listening openly and without judgement as your spouse speaks. Then ensure you understand what your spouse is communicating to you by paraphrasing and clarifying. Remember to take a time out whenever necessary to verify you both are in a mental space to receive and process the information conveyed. Finally, agree to come to some resolution on matters you discuss. Communicating effectively will help to create more harmony, peace, and tranquility in your relationship. Kyri Harris, MS, LAPC, NCC Clarity Psychological Group



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