3 Steps to Better Communication With Your Partner
Ever thought that either you or your partner were crazy because you just couldn’t connect? The beginning of a relationship is a piece of cake because the only thing we need to communicate doesn’t have to be said with words. But physical attraction isn’t what keeps relationships together; that’s emotional connection. In order to emotionally connect with your partner, you get to learn how to communicate how you feel and to decode what your partner is really saying. I’ve got some tips for you to diffuse mood swings and to become more responsive to your partner’s emotional needs.
1. Step to the balcony
I’ve borrowed this phrase from William Ury, founder of the Harvard Program on Negotiation. Stepping to the balcony means taking a breath and zooming out. When you are in the thick of an argument it can be hard to remember what you stand for and what is important. When you remind yourself to step to the balcony, you give yourself some mental space to be present and clear about your intentions.
While on the balcony, it’s good to give yourself a mini pep talk. You know you’re a good guy, so you don’t have to prove that by begging your spouse to see that. Your actions should speak for themselves. If someone isn’t valuing you or appreciating you as much as you think they should in any given moment, then that is their problem.
While on the balcony, remind yourself of the differences between you and your partner. Maybe you can maintain a mostly even mood like a champ without many inputs, and you’re a testosterone-y specimen of a man. Your spouse or girlfriend is may not be like you in that respect. Some studies show that women’s moods can change because of their chemical composition, and their reaction could have nothing to do with you. Don’t take every emotional flurry personally, but do acknowledge the importance of your partner’s feelings.
When women talk about their feelings, they automatically get a boost in oxytocin, which is needed for emotional balance. If you can endure an emotional flurry while paying special attention to listening, her mood will bounce back — no further escalation needed. Emotional women need you to listen to them so they can get back to center. They don’t need suggestions; they don’t need unsolicited advice; they don’t need counterattacks; they just need to express their emotions and for you to empathize with what they are experiencing.
2. Speak your partner’s language
You can boost your ability to diffuse an intense emotional flurry by learning more about her language. Is she a visual, auditory, or kinesthetic kind of woman? Most people have a primary way of viewing the world that determines what they do and how they respond to things. If you can determine the language your lover speaks, you’ll be able to love her (and communicate) better.
I’m an auditory kind of person; my world is painted with 8th notes and time signatures. If I were your woman, I’d need for you to hear me. If I said, “John you just don’t understand,” a good response might be: “I hear you babe. Tell me a little more about it.
If your woman is a visual person, the first response she has to anything will be sight-based. If she expresses how much you aren’t getting it, a good response would be: “I see what you mean. Show me a little bit more about how your perspective.”
Kinesthetic women are based in the sense of touch. Her superpower is feeling the crap out of things. A caring response to your kinesthetic wonderwoman would be: “I feel you, hon. Help me understand more about what you’re going through.”
These are all cheesy stockphoto responses that probably won’t work if you use them as crutches. Get creative. Get down and dirty in her world and aspire to speak her special language better than any other person in the world.
3. Fulfill yourself
Always know your intrinsic value, and remind yourself of it. If you aren’t grounded in your inherent worth, you’ll be blown off course during your own emotional flurries. You’ll say things you wish you wouldn’t have said; you’ll instigate more emotional responses from your partner and have an escalating conflict on your hands. We’ve all been there, and it isn’t pretty, but you can do something about it.
Remind yourself of your value. By taking the time to build up your own stock and place it in safer keeping, you are increasing your capacity to handle a woman’s natural emotional swings. By being grounded in your value, you can diffuse conflict and calm an emotional storm. This makes a woman feel safe and comfortable, and she’ll open up to you with greater ease. Your centeredness will also bring previously unimagined intimacy with your spouse.
Relationships don’t have to be characterized by ecstasy, plateaus, flatlines, and then bitter ends; that type of relationship is a choice. Most people simply don’t know that better communication is an option, let alone a discipline, so the idea of modern relationships has taken a turn for the worse. By increasing your emotional IQ* and responding more empathically to the needs of your partner, you can have a relationship with limitless intimacy.