SWALLOW YOUR PRIDE: Too often I hear from clients that they don't want to extend the olive branch or make the first move because they want their partner to do so to "prove" that they're committed to making change in the relationship. Perhaps you don't trust that your partner is actually committed; but why should they trust that you are, if you're not willing to make a move either? If the goal is to create change, someone has to make the first move; why not you?
EMOTIONAL HONESTY: Be honest about how you feel. We are operating under the assumption that each of you are communicating your honest feelings. Since you are not psychic and you don’t share a brain with the other, it’s not your place to question this or tell them they are wrong. You can ASK if they might feel a particular way, but you must accept their response as the truth and move on. Mean what you say, and say ONLY what you mean.
LISTEN: actually hear what your partner has to say. Don’t filter it through the template in your head of what you THINK they are going to say- actually hear the content of their words to you. You might be surprised.
REFLECT: restate what your partner said in your own words, so they know you were listening, as well as so you can make sure your perception is accurate.
DON’T INTERRUPT: Even if what you feel they are saying is inaccurate. Let them finish talking, so you don’t miss anything, and also so you don’t shut them down.
SHOW EMPATHY: Consider your partner’s feelings, even when you feel they’ve hurt you/wronged you in some way. Remember that your partner loves you, and you love them, so be kind to your partner!
BE PATIENT: you do not need to fill all the silences- tolerate them and allow your partner time and space to articulate if they need it.
DON’T CRITICIZE: No snarkiness or backhanded compliments allowed. Also do not “Yes, but…”. Just zip it! 😊
ACKNOWLEDGE/APOLOGIZE: acknowledge your partner’s “wins” or good efforts, or apologize for contributing to their frustration/hurt/anger.
GRATITUDE: when your partner acknowledges or apologizes, show gratitude for their caring about you and how you feel.
HOW CAN I HELP: If your partner expresses a frustration or hurt, ask what you can do to help or do differently in the future? Think creatively, there are often simple solutions to minor irritations.