A Communication Pattern That Doesn’t Work

You’d be amazed at how much your partner might say to you that you don’t actually hear. You may think you hear it. You might even place bets on how well you hear them. But if I gave you a pop quiz and asked you to repeat what you heard them say, you’d probably fall short. 

How can I be so sure? We see it over and over again when working with couples in therapy or relationship counseling.

When we watch a couple interact and notice all the missed messages, we initially offer some loose but more specific structure to help slow the conversation down. Our goal is to help the “receiver” get the message and repeat it back so that the “giver” feels heard. 

Guess what happens 99% of the time? The receiver still misses important parts. 

So we go slower. Many times, we have to limit the giver to saying only one or two sentences at a time, so that the receiver can correctly reflect what they heard. 

One or two sentences at a time. That’s it. When this happens, most couples feel shocked. They feel like they’ve failed a communication test. 

I promise you, this is no failure. It’s an important primal, physiological response to a perceived threat. Unfortunately, this ingrained primal response also gets in the way of intimate connection. 

Below, I’ll help you better understand your communication breakdown as well as give you a structure to practice that might help you make progress on your own. 

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