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Why do I need to say that I love you? (DW#326)

Last week, we started talking about the http://amzn.to/2ujhKy85 Love Languages. This week, we will explore them a little.

The first love language is Words of Affirmation.

If your love language is words of affirmation, you need to hear love and appreciation expressed. You need to be verbally encouraged and assured of another’s love. Seeing it in action is not enough for you. Hearing about the other’s love and appreciation for you makes it real.

If your loved one’s love language is words of affirmation, please don’t assume that they know you love them. They need to hear it.

Compliment them, appreciate them and let them hear you praise them in front of others.

Oh, and criticism from you really hurts. So please stop!

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Never concede a point (how to start and continue a fight) (DW#304)

The difference between happy and miserable couples is not that the former don’t argue or fight. What keeps some couples happy is that they learn to make and accept repairs in the middle of an argument.

Couples who are high conflict and distressed on the other hand, never concede a point to their partner. One or both of them have the need to be right – often at the cost of the relationship.

If the couple under discussion learnt to concede a point to the other, here is what their conversation might sound like:

She: [Still calming down from the "you’re not firm enough" side-issue. Considers arguing with whether she needs to be "10% firmer," but thinks better of it.]
You’re right, I did say I’d keep things cleaner. I didn’t realize you only care about the living room. That’s doable. But I have to tell you, I want more respect about how I do discipline her, and how hard it is to be on top of her mess making all day.

Notice that this couple is...

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Make demands and threats (how to start and continue a fight) (DW#303)

When things get heated up, it is tempting to make demands from, and threats to, the other person.

When the husband demands Leave my family out of this! The wife is more likely to focus on the threat to her autonomy from this demand and it is very likely to divert attention from the topic at hand.

Similarly, when we make threats, empty or real, (Or I’ve about had it!) it sends the other person into defense mode, their thinking brain shuts down and they are actually incapable of hearing the underlying message or need.

What could this couple do instead?

If they were mindful of their communication, their reactions and the words that they spoke, here is what the conservation might sound like.

He: [Wants to fire back but has learned that the impulse to do so is actually a kind of big, flashing warning in his mind to PAUSE AND BUY SOME TIME until he has calmed down] Hmmm. Let me think about that for a minute. [Discreetly takes a few big breaths. Thinks about whether he’s gone...

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Insult and launch a character attack (how to start and continue a fight) (DW# 302)

One of the most effective ways to start and keep a fight going is to insult the other person and launch a character attack.

For example, the wife in the example said Such a jerk to her husband when they started arguing about the mess.

Long after an argument is over, such insults linger in the mind and keep burning like a mixture of emotional glue and gasoline. So damaging are such insults, that frequent use of such language qualifies as emotional abuse, a grinding assault on the other person’s sense of worth.

The husband in the example reacted to this with his own character attack on his wife when he said: You can’t talk without getting hysterical.

The use of the word hysterical to describe her behaviour was an attack on her character rather than a comment on her behaviour.
She can do little to change his opinion of what constitutes hysteria.

If he had said, on the other hand, Please lower your voice. It is hard for me to hear what you are saying when you raise your...

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Lead with the negative (how to start and continue a fight) (DW#297)

The first issue with the exchange is leading with the negative. The husband made his entrance and said "What a mess"!

Dr. John Gottman, the renowned relationship expert, believes that if the start-up of a conversation is harsh, the conversation will go downhill from there and will generally not end well. If the first statement is negative, the other person will feel attacked and go into defence mode.

What could the husband have done instead?
He could have started by connecting first.

Here is what it would look like:

He: [Walks through the front door. Sees the mess, feels like grumbling, but thinks better of it. Takes a big breath. Kisses wife on the cheek, picks up his daughter and jiggles her in his arms while she giggles and makes him laugh. Smiles at wife.] How’d it go? [They chat for a few minutes. He says something nice about what she did that day. There’s a pause, and he takes the plunge.] I don’t want to hassle you, but could we talk about the clutter?

...

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The foolproof way to have a fight (DW#296)

Whether a relationship is strong, fulfilling and healthy (or not) depends to a significant amount, on the quality of the daily interactions between the people who form the relationship.

What happens during these interactions and communication exchanges on a day to day basis determines the emotional climate of the relationship over time which in turn determines whether or not the people in the relationship feel connected and happy.

Having positive interactions and good communication does not mean that the relationship is free of conflict. Relationship experts agree that to have a relationship free of (apparent) conflict is neither desirable nor healthy. In fact, many would argue that the presence of conflict is an opportunity to grow as an individual and for the relationship to become more intimate as well.

The conflict, does of course, need to be handled skillfully in order for this to happen.

Let’s take a common example from family life to understand this better. The...

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5 problems with telling “little white lies" (DW#294)

We’ve been talking about speaking the truth and the kinds of lies that are far from the truth and the whole truth.

But what about "white lies", the harmless or trivial lies that we sometimes tell, especially to avoid hurting someone's feelings?

Well, according to Sam Harris, neuroscientist and author of the book, Lying, honesty is always the best policy.

"The people who undo their lives, and destroy relationships and careers, always accomplish this through lying," he says. "The decision to not lie is the best prophylactic i’ve ever come across for not bringing needless misery into your life."

Harris firmly believes we should stay away from all lies, including the "white" ones. "They tend to be the only lies that good people tell, while imagining that they are being good in the process," he says.

Here are some reasons that those white lies can damage relationships:

1. We undermine people’s trust.

When people overhear us lying to someone else, it tells them that...

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Wise speech (DW#289)

We’ve all done it. Regretted saying something the moment it came out. We may have said it too harshly, or in a state of anger or not having paused to consider whether it was a good time.

Although we may apologize profusely (that is if we have the slightest desire to maintain the relationship), we get the sinking feeling that the hurt caused is deep and that healing it will take time.

Can we prevent such slips of the tongue which cause such damage to our relationships?

Maybe not entirely but we can certainly make progress towards minding our words if we THINK before we speak.

Here are some time-honored questions to consider in the pause before we speak:
Is what I am about to say:

T – True?
H – Helpful to the other person? To our relationship? To getting my
       message across?
I – Inspiring rather than discouraging?
N – Necessary? Is it necessary at this time?
K – Kind? Am I saying it in a way that is kind and respectful rather...

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Hold the advice!

 

Have you ever been to a doctor and found them writing a prescription before you'd finished saying what was wrong?

Have you ever told a friend (or a parent or a spouse!) about a problem and been told what to do about it before you had even finished telling them what the real issue was?

Have you ever had to grit your teeth while someone advised you to do things you had already tried because they didn't bother to ask what you'd already done?

It is a common experience to have people prescribing solutions before they have understood the problem, isn't it?

This is because we often don't get a key distinction in communication.

Listening and giving advice.

I know, I know. We spoke about this just last week. But it is just so important, that it is worth repeating.

Listening helps others to tell their stories. It requires putting our own agenda (and even our own expertise) on hold and simply "becoming a vessel into which others can pour their worries, their passions, their joys, their...

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The difference between listening and agreeing.

In my experience, one of the things that stops us from truly listening to the other is the fear that listening might indicate that we agree with what they are saying.

What if we don't agree? Should we not start making our case right from the first sentence? Does silence not mean assent?

Not so. Just hear me out. :)

Listening to, and agreeing with, are two different communication processes. And in between the two lies a third one – understanding.

When someone is sharing their experience, their feelings or their thoughts, there is really nothing to agree to or disagree with. The experience, the feelings and the thoughts belong to the person who is having and sharing them. Our role is simply to hear them out and to understand them (if we wish to be connected to them, that is).

For statements or conversations that do require agreement or disagreement (such as making plans or finding a solution to a problem) understanding the conversation before we agree or disagree with it is...

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