Relationship skills are based on good communication, it is the most important aspect of relationships. Almost always the first thing couples list as the problem with their relationship is that they don’t communicate well.

Before I give you the FREE Relationship skills and instructions for Couples Dialogue, which when used on a regular basis will improve your relationship amazingly well, let’s talk about the mistakes that most make with communication.

Firstly, we don’t listen. How often has your partner complained and said, “You are not listening to me”?

People often, especially in a heated argument, only listen to the first sentence and then stop listening and go into their head and start thinking of their arguing response, to present as soon as they get a space to say it. Sound familiar? We have all done it.

First Step

The first step to improve relationships is to use couples dialogue, and learn to listen. I will come to that later.

The second mistake is that people in a discussion or argument will argue about who is right and who is wrong. The truth is that both people are right! They are looking at things from a different perspective. Rule… instead of trying to prove the other wrong, ask respectfully, “tell me how you see it that way”? By really listening to the other’s view, greater understanding will occur. When two perspectives are looked at, often the picture becomes clearer than with just one view.

Another mistake is fighting to get “your way”. By discussing what it is that each want, and why, and then working out creative ways that both can get what they want, leads to a much better relationship. “My way or the highway”, does not work.

Gregory Institute - Relationship Skills

Couples Dialogue

Before I give the instructions I want to add a very important point. This is not to be used ONLY when you have an argument or a misunderstanding. Dialoguing on a regular basis in this way maintains closeness and intimacy. For those of you who have children or been around babies, remember when a baby looked at you and needed to see the look of love in your eyes? We never outgrow that need. We all need to see that look of love from our partner. Without that, we don’t feel loved. Seeing the look of love meets a core need deep within us. When people are not getting that need met they often resort to getting attention in unhealthy ways such as playing games and causing dramas.

 

Gregory Institute - Relationship Skills

Make sure you and your partner look at each other, eye to eye often, showing the love that you feel for your partner. Doing this results in awesome rewards.

The second point is that the name Couples Dialogue is not only for couples. Use it for all relationships. It works very well with parent and children.

CHECK SHEET FOR COUPLE’S DIALOGUE

It is very important to make a clear space to have a discussion or dialogue so that you can both focus completely on each other with no interruptions. Sit down, eye to eye and really look at each other when talking. Each person needs to feel seen and heard.

One person in the relationship needs to ask the other if they are free to talk, rather than launching straight into the topic. This gives the other time to prepare to listen and be fully present. It may be necessary to make a time to be present. Ideally asap.

SENDER: The one who wants to send a message must take the initiative and say: “I would like to have a Couple’s Dialogue. Is now okay?”

 

There are five reasons why one might want to have a Couple’s Dialogue:

You are upset about something and want to discuss it.
You want to discuss a topic that you think might be “touchy”.
There is something important to you, and you want to discuss it.
You want to understand your partner’s viewpoint.
Feeling close and connected to your partner is important to you.

RECEIVER: It is the receiver’s job to grant a Couple’s Dialogue ASAP, now if possible. If not now, set an appointment time so that the sender knows when he/she will be heard.

The receiver does three things:

Mirror: “What you are saying is …” or “Let me see if I got it.”
When there is a natural pause, the receiver will say two things:

“Am I getting what you said?”
“Is there anything more you would like to say about that?”
When the sender has finished sending, the receiver moves on to:

Validation:
The first thing to do is to summarize in a few sentences what has been said:

“In summary what you’re saying is …”

Then check out the accuracy by saying, “Is that a good summary?”

Then say a few sentences like: “I am listening to you carefully. I follow what you are saying and you make sense.”
Always end up saying the sentence: “You make sense.”

Next step is empathy. Let your partner know what you imagine they might be feeling.

Empathy: “I imagine you might be feeling …”
Or “I imagine you might have felt …”

Then you make some guesses at what the sender is feeling. Feelings are stated in one word (ie angry, confused, sad, upset, etc.) If you guess entails more than one word it is probably a thought (“You feel that you don’t want to go with me.” This is a thought, not a feeling.) Also, one never knows for sure what another person is feeling. Therefore check out your guess by saying:

“Is that what you are feeling?”

When the sender shares with you other feelings, mirror back what you heard. Then enquire”

“Are there any other feelings you are having?”

Then mirror what is said.

When the receiver has gone through all three parts (mirror, validation, and empathy) then he/she says:

“I would like to respond now.”

Then there is a switch and the receiver now becomes the sender. Go through the same steps so that the receiver/now sender gets to fully express his/her point of view and feelings. Switch back and forth as many times as needed to resolve the issue.

Imago therapy, Hendrix