–By Lawrence Kaufman; 561-302-0568; firstname.lastname@example.org; www.kaufmancounseling.com
Press the pause button! Slow down! Learn slow motion analysis! Freeze frame the action! Observe more and talk less than you usually do in a discussion with your partner! These are words of advice for how you can improve the quality of your dialogs together.
You will probably discover great benefits once you are able to slow down and reflect more on what you have just communicated — both verbally and non-verbally. You will benefit by noticing and becoming curious about a fuller range of direct and indirect interpersonal messages that have been exchanged. You will be much less likely to end up feeling as if you have been “arguing over nothing.”
This seeming “nothingness” that bogs the two of you down, and throws you off course, is actually filled with important meanings. At first, these meanings may not be apparent. They may seem invisible. You will need to work hard to discover what has been communicated from both of you — from the surface to the depths. In doing this, it is so important not to blame your partner for what doesn’t go well in your discussions. It is so much easier to see what your partner is doing “wrong” than to see and understand what you might be contributing to what is not working out well in your communications.
Most of the couples I work with are convinced, when I first start working with them, that their spouse/ partner is 90% (or whatever the high percentage is) at fault for the problems in their shared relationship. Not infrequently, they feel unfairly criticized, misunderstood, misinterpreted, and/or defensive when I give them feedback on what I perceive their contribution might be to their marital/relational difficulties.
A person needs to be relatively nondefensive in order to be able to distinguish between constructive and non-constructive criticism. A person also needs to have relatively high self-esteem and self-worth in order to be able to learn from experience and learn from another.
When I talk about viewing intimate discussions through a magnifying glass I am urging partners in close relationships to pay a lot more attention to what is being said directly, what is not being talked about, and what is being communicated non-verbally (as through facial expressions, bodily movements, and tones of voice). This kind of issue can be seen or perceived from the perspective of information processing. The more information you both are aware of — coming from yourself and from the other — the better you will be able to accurately decipher, decode,and understand what is going on within yourself, within your partner, and between the two of you.