Great Communication Starters

Reviewed Oct 19, 2015

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Summary

Reduce tension conversing with your spouse by expressing the hurt you think he may feel as well as an apology for your part in it.

Ever notice how quickly a conversation with your spouse can go downhill? Just a few poorly chosen words can cause a healthy discussion to deteriorate. The following examples demonstrate how to repair and restore great communication.

John, a 43-year-old consultant, and his wife Doris, a 39-year-old illustrator, had grown distant because of a breakdown in communication. One day during a non-conflicted time, John took Doris aside and looked at her firmly, but tenderly and asked, “Doris, have I ever made you feel that you were not worth listening to?”  Doris’ eyes teared up at this show of concern and interest from John.

When her body language, more than her words, indicated that he probably had made her feel that way, John persisted and said, “Doris, look at me, please. Just because I don’t know how to listen to you in the right way doesn’t mean you are not worth listening to. Don’t let anyone, including me, ever make you feel that you are not worth listening to, because you are, and I’m sorry if I have made you feel that way.”

Now Doris was receptive to John, so things went well. However, if you try this with your wife and she jumps down your throat with, “Of course that’s true. You’re one of the worst listeners I know!” don’t be discouraged. Take a deep breath and reply: “I know. That’s why I’m apologizing for it now. You don’t deserve to be ignored like that.” Chances are she’ll become calmer and, 1 or 2 days later, may apologize for her hostile retort, and even thank you for your gesture.

Another example involves Nancy, a 51-year-old mother of 2 grown children, and her husband Ted, a 53-year-old plumber. As in the above example, they had grown distant due to a breakdown in communication. One day, Nancy took Ted aside, looked him straight in the eye and asked him: “Ted, have I ever made you feel that I don’t respect you or admire you or that I have stopped thinking that you’re the greatest guy I know and I’m lucky to have you in my life?”

Needless to say, Ted was dumbfounded and speechless, indicating, as in the previous example, that yes, Nancy had caused him to have exactly those negative feelings. Nancy persisted and continued: “Ted, just because I get stressed out and sometimes take it out on you, because you’re my safety valve, doesn’t mean I don’t thank my lucky stars for having you in my life. And I’m sorry if I’ve made you feel worse about yourself.”

Beginning a conversation this way works so well because when tension exists between you and someone else, the only thing that will not create more defensiveness is a sincere apology. Apologies also make the apologizing person feel better because it helps to thaw out coldness and bitterness in a relationship. Love means always having to say you’re sorry.

By Mark Goulston, MD

Summary

Reduce tension conversing with your spouse by expressing the hurt you think he may feel as well as an apology for your part in it.

Ever notice how quickly a conversation with your spouse can go downhill? Just a few poorly chosen words can cause a healthy discussion to deteriorate. The following examples demonstrate how to repair and restore great communication.

John, a 43-year-old consultant, and his wife Doris, a 39-year-old illustrator, had grown distant because of a breakdown in communication. One day during a non-conflicted time, John took Doris aside and looked at her firmly, but tenderly and asked, “Doris, have I ever made you feel that you were not worth listening to?”  Doris’ eyes teared up at this show of concern and interest from John.

When her body language, more than her words, indicated that he probably had made her feel that way, John persisted and said, “Doris, look at me, please. Just because I don’t know how to listen to you in the right way doesn’t mean you are not worth listening to. Don’t let anyone, including me, ever make you feel that you are not worth listening to, because you are, and I’m sorry if I have made you feel that way.”

Now Doris was receptive to John, so things went well. However, if you try this with your wife and she jumps down your throat with, “Of course that’s true. You’re one of the worst listeners I know!” don’t be discouraged. Take a deep breath and reply: “I know. That’s why I’m apologizing for it now. You don’t deserve to be ignored like that.” Chances are she’ll become calmer and, 1 or 2 days later, may apologize for her hostile retort, and even thank you for your gesture.

Another example involves Nancy, a 51-year-old mother of 2 grown children, and her husband Ted, a 53-year-old plumber. As in the above example, they had grown distant due to a breakdown in communication. One day, Nancy took Ted aside, looked him straight in the eye and asked him: “Ted, have I ever made you feel that I don’t respect you or admire you or that I have stopped thinking that you’re the greatest guy I know and I’m lucky to have you in my life?”

Needless to say, Ted was dumbfounded and speechless, indicating, as in the previous example, that yes, Nancy had caused him to have exactly those negative feelings. Nancy persisted and continued: “Ted, just because I get stressed out and sometimes take it out on you, because you’re my safety valve, doesn’t mean I don’t thank my lucky stars for having you in my life. And I’m sorry if I’ve made you feel worse about yourself.”

Beginning a conversation this way works so well because when tension exists between you and someone else, the only thing that will not create more defensiveness is a sincere apology. Apologies also make the apologizing person feel better because it helps to thaw out coldness and bitterness in a relationship. Love means always having to say you’re sorry.

By Mark Goulston, MD

Summary

Reduce tension conversing with your spouse by expressing the hurt you think he may feel as well as an apology for your part in it.

Ever notice how quickly a conversation with your spouse can go downhill? Just a few poorly chosen words can cause a healthy discussion to deteriorate. The following examples demonstrate how to repair and restore great communication.

John, a 43-year-old consultant, and his wife Doris, a 39-year-old illustrator, had grown distant because of a breakdown in communication. One day during a non-conflicted time, John took Doris aside and looked at her firmly, but tenderly and asked, “Doris, have I ever made you feel that you were not worth listening to?”  Doris’ eyes teared up at this show of concern and interest from John.

When her body language, more than her words, indicated that he probably had made her feel that way, John persisted and said, “Doris, look at me, please. Just because I don’t know how to listen to you in the right way doesn’t mean you are not worth listening to. Don’t let anyone, including me, ever make you feel that you are not worth listening to, because you are, and I’m sorry if I have made you feel that way.”

Now Doris was receptive to John, so things went well. However, if you try this with your wife and she jumps down your throat with, “Of course that’s true. You’re one of the worst listeners I know!” don’t be discouraged. Take a deep breath and reply: “I know. That’s why I’m apologizing for it now. You don’t deserve to be ignored like that.” Chances are she’ll become calmer and, 1 or 2 days later, may apologize for her hostile retort, and even thank you for your gesture.

Another example involves Nancy, a 51-year-old mother of 2 grown children, and her husband Ted, a 53-year-old plumber. As in the above example, they had grown distant due to a breakdown in communication. One day, Nancy took Ted aside, looked him straight in the eye and asked him: “Ted, have I ever made you feel that I don’t respect you or admire you or that I have stopped thinking that you’re the greatest guy I know and I’m lucky to have you in my life?”

Needless to say, Ted was dumbfounded and speechless, indicating, as in the previous example, that yes, Nancy had caused him to have exactly those negative feelings. Nancy persisted and continued: “Ted, just because I get stressed out and sometimes take it out on you, because you’re my safety valve, doesn’t mean I don’t thank my lucky stars for having you in my life. And I’m sorry if I’ve made you feel worse about yourself.”

Beginning a conversation this way works so well because when tension exists between you and someone else, the only thing that will not create more defensiveness is a sincere apology. Apologies also make the apologizing person feel better because it helps to thaw out coldness and bitterness in a relationship. Love means always having to say you’re sorry.

By Mark Goulston, MD

The information provided on the Achieve Solutions site, including, but not limited to, articles, quizzes and other general information, is for informational purposes only and should not be treated as behavioral health care or management advice. Please direct questions regarding the operation of the Achieve Solutions site to Web Feedback. If you have questions related to workplace issues, please consider contacting your human resources department. ©2017 Beacon Health Options, Inc.

 

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