Ventura Marriage Counseling - Communication Skills - Intention to Understand
One of the challenges in marriage counseling is the way the two people communicate with each other. Are they only coming from a "self point of view?" Are they willing to work on their part or do they want to make it all the other person's responsibility? Do they make the effort to communicate their needs and wants in a way their partner can hear and understand?
Imagine that each person is from a totally different planet and communicates in very different ways. By that I mean that the family, town, state, country they grew up in can be so different than their partner’s family, town, etc. that it’s as if they came from different planets. Sometimes even the same words have different meanings based upon the meaning that was assigned to it from their past experiences! For example, Looney Tunes could be a silly cartoon or it could be “The Looney Bin” where crazy people get locked up. When we say something and the other person responds or reacts in a way we didn’t expect, we need to step back and check in with them to see what they think they heard or what they think it meant.
Also, if someone feels hurt or upset by something the other person said, we need to take a deep breath and ask for clarification by saying something like, “Hm, it feels/sounds like you just said…. Is that what you meant?” Then we need to allow for the other person to clarify or change what they said and stay in the moment with that so we don’t keep going back to what we thought they meant the first time. Many times in couple’s counseling sessions someone gets stuck or vested in the first message they received and will keep going back to, “yea, but you SAID…..” That will put up major road blocks for communicating. That takes us back to the initial thought - one of the critical parts of communicating is having the intention to really hear/understand the other person and not just come from a "self point of view!" Communicating in relationships is a TWO way street with only ONE lane where we have to work together before either one can get to where they want to go!
Putting the Pieces Together (So We Make Sense of Ourselves, Others and Our World)
Lois Zsarnay, LMFT, BCPC, RD
©2014 Lois Zsarnay, LMFT, BCPC, RD