Let’s face the facts. Misunderstandings occur on a daily basis and sometimes they feel unavoidable.
We are rushed and driven towards being goal-oriented. You need to get this and that done every minute of the day and it leads to gaps in communication and understanding.
But what happens when those miscommunications occur inside your intimate relationships and how do you recover?
It can be easy to run from a misunderstanding and play the blame game or to think of the perfect comeback hours later.
But in a trusted and powerful relationship, a miscommunication can be transformed into a caring moment that brings you closer to your partner.
With a little effort and an open ear, three simple steps can lay the foundation for worlds of understanding.
Let’s talk about three simple steps towards resolving misunderstanding.
At the core of a miscommunication or argument is a lack of knowledge.
Sometimes you just want to know the ‘what’ and ‘why’ of your partner but find it difficult to ask.
Here are three easy steps to help get you there.
Framing your question is very important. Think about the specific details you want to know and focus on those details.
Think about your own bias and try to exclude that mindset. Try hard not to guess their answer.
By removing your personal frames and getting to the core question, you will be better equipped to ask with clarity.
Good examples include, “Kate, I am having trouble understanding why you said I was mean-spirited,” or “Darryl, can you tell me what I may have done to factor into the argument this morning?”
Both of these questions utilize all three factors; seeking specific details, excluding your bias, and removing attempts at mind-reading.
By asking an open question without those three biases, you allow Kate or Darryl to think and act instead of reacting.
Even in the calm of a non-event, it is tough to not respond immediately to the answer.
A crucial step is taking time to absorb the information.
Sit with your partner’s answer and ask internal questions.
Do I play a role in this event? Did their answer resonate? What follow-up questions can I ask to divine more information?
This simple moment of introspection can be a relationship saver.
By pausing and reflecting, you give yourself a chance to process and sort your feelings.
Following the dialogue, finalize the discussion by incorporating the answer.
If the results were genuine and legitimate, consider your part in the event and think about ways to make the next event less likely or less durable.
There is an important difference between understanding and incorporating. Understanding includes absorbing and accepting what your partner’s words are.
Incorporating involves taking action on those words. “Kate told me I sometimes get mean-spirited when we discuss her work-home balance.
Next time we discuss that I am going to listen and ask if she wants advice or a simple, open ear.”
In those two sentences, you absorbed the information and incorporated it into a new way of thinking and acting.
By design and through repetition, you will find enormous benefits to these three steps.
First, by allowing your partner time to breathe and speak without interruption or excessive emotion, you improve your social bond and communication.
The easiest way to increase trust is to give proof of trust and by giving your partner open air, they can explore in a safe environment.
Second, incorporating their answer increases your awareness.
Clients have told me numerous times that having three or four of these follow-up discussions made it easier to “see” an event coming and head it off at the pass.
If you know that Kate’s work-life balance is a touchy spot, you can evaluate a potential miscommunication when she comes home from work frustrated and be better equipped to act instead of react.
Finally, by incorporating the answer, you become more aware of your personal and internal triggers.
Perhaps your work-home balance is also troubling and explosive and contributes to your desire to see your partner’s balance improve.
We are all trying to tell our message to our loved ones and it can be difficult when overwhelming emotions are involved.
By taking time during a non-event to frame your question and absorb and incorporate the answer you will quickly and easily learn vast amounts of information about your partner and become closer.