"Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply." Stephen R. Covey
I hear this all the time, 'We need help with communication." If this is you, don't worry, you're not alone. Your relationship didn't come with a book on how to be in a relationship. One of my favorite exercises for couples by The Gottman Institute is, Dreams within Conflict. This helps couples have a dialogue about their conflicts and helps create understanding in their relationship. Underneath every perpetual problem or gridlock issue is a dream that your partner doesn't know about or understand. Your partner doesn't have to support the dream they just need to understand it. If they support it, all the better. Here are some tips to help you get started:
- Listen. Sounds obvious, but you would be surprised how many couples need help with this. Not only do we say listen, but we say listen with empathy and without judgment. When you are listening you can ask questions, such as: what does this dream mean to you or what is your nightmare scenario?
- Speaker. State what your dream is and try to be specific. Maybe, you would like more order in your home or a sense of peace when you come home. This is your chance to be honest about your dreams. This is not about your partner's dreams.
- Time. Make sure you have a quiet place to talk where you won't be interrupted. Allow the same amount of time for each of you to be the speaker. Twenty minutes is usually a good time frame.
- Validate. After the speaker has stated their dream the listener can state back what they heard. This will validate the speaker and help create a safe environment for the listener to share their dreams.
- Don't persuade. This is not about persuading your partner to side with you or agree with you. Remember, you are having a conversation with one another. This will also help set the tone with future conversations.