Last week we talked about Time-outs and how they can greatly help you and your partner refocus your attention towards constructive dialogue in the heat of an argument or high emotions.
This week, we are focusing on what to do AFTER the Time-out period has ended and you’re both ready to discuss the topic at hand in an open, curious and effective manner.
In order to help you and your partner stay engaged and refrain from jumping to conclusions, interrupting, and defensiveness, I suggest using an effective paraphrasing technique.
Why is the Paraphrasing Technique Effective?
By paraphrasing in your own words what your partner is saying, you are fully engaged and 100% listening. You aren’t considering what you are going to say next and you aren’t being defensive.
At this stage, it’s very important that you come from a place of curiosity and really focus on trying to understand your partner’s perspective. This of course, does not mean you have to agree 100% with everything your partner is saying, nor does it mean that you are saying they are RIGHT or WRONG.
The goal of paraphrasing is to fully understand your partner’s perspective!
How does the Paraphrasing Technique Work?
The process looks a bit like this:
- Your partner will talk for a short bit about the issue and then you will tell them back in your own words what your partner has just said.
- When paraphrasing, be sure to leave out judgment, opinion, excuses or denial – only work to fully understand what your partner has said.
- Go back and forth in this way until one partner feels they are ready to be the listener, and switch roles.
NOTE: When speaking, use “I feel…” statements to express your feelings and do not blame or talk down to your partner.
For a little practice, try this technique with your partner starting with basic topics such as:
- What is your ideal date night?
- How your day was?
- A small conflict from work?
This will give you the opportunity to fully understand the practice before jumping into more sensitive topics!
Have you tried the Paraphrasing Technique? I’d love to know your thoughts in the comments below!