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Couples: Communication, Connection, and Conflict Resolution


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Couples: Communication, Connection, and Conflict Resolution

  1. 1. Dance With MeCommunication, Connection, & Conflict ResolutionDr. Debi Smith, Clinical Psychologist 800.705.6223
  2. 2. Today’s Topics include …• Communication Problems• Communication Styles• Communication Strategies• Creating Connection• Resolving Conflict
  3. 3. Communication Problems Harsh Comments• When a conversation begins with a harsh comment, things will go south 94% of the time.• Solution: Bring things up sooner rather than later to prevent anger and resentment from building, and coming out as a harsh comment.
  4. 4. Communication Problems Generalized Statements• “You always …”• “You never …”• “What’s wrong with you?”• We use these phrases to try to get a response.• They never bring about the response we’re hoping for.
  5. 5. Communication Problems Criticism• Launching an attack on your partner by questioning his or her character, intelligence, and/or abilities• If you’re not getting the response you need, your partner probably isn’t hearing what you’re saying.• All he or she hears is anger.
  6. 6. Communication Problems Defensiveness• … reactively attacking for self-protection• When you hear yourself explaining or defending your position, it’s probably because you’re feeling overwhelmed, attacked, and/or criticized.
  7. 7. Communication Problems Stonewalling• … withdrawing and/or refusing to respond to your partner• For men, it may be a response to their own confusion, being overwhelmed, or trying to defuse the situation.• For women, it feels like he doesn’t care and creates excessive anxiety … and anger.
  8. 8. Communication Problems Stonewalling• Can be subtle … – refusing to talk for a few minutes• Or dramatic … – pouting, stomping out of the room, slamming doors, not speaking for days, etc.
  9. 9. Communication Problems Stonewalling• The surprising side of stonewalling … – It’s actually more damaging to the relationship if the woman stonewalls!
  10. 10. Communication Problems Contempt• Verbal – Sarcasm – Calling your spouse an “idiot”• Non-verbal – Smirking – Rolling your eyes
  11. 11. Communication Styles Feelings + Actions• The way you’ve learned to handle STRESS will determine your communication style.• How you express yourself involves both your feelings and your actions.• To communicate well, you need to know your respective styles.
  12. 12. Communication Styles How do you feel?• When we get stressed out, we all get a bit anxious. Some more so than others.• When you’re feeling anxiety (worry, concern, fear, frustration, feeling trapped or stuck), it will affect your communication style.
  13. 13. Communication Styles When you’re under stress …• On a scale ranging from 1 (calm) to 10 (very nervous), how would you rate your own level of anxiety?• On a scale ranging from 1 (calm) to 10 (very nervous), how would you rate your mate’s level of anxiety?
  14. 14. Communication Styles What do you do?• Do you seek out other people to help you with your stress and anxiety?• Or do you pull away from people and try to handle it on your own?
  15. 15. Communication Styles Secure Style• The most secure couples experience lower levels of anxiety.• And when they do feel worried, they seek out their partner to talk through things with.• After their talk, they feel less anxious.
  16. 16. Communication Styles “Seek first to understand, then to be understood.” ~ Stephen Covey“He who speaks without listening, that is his folly and shame.” ~ Proverbs“It takes two to speak the truth …one to speak and another to hear.” ~ Henry David Thoreau “It is a luxury to be understood.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
  17. 17. Communication Strategies Assertiveness• Assertiveness is a highly valuable communication skill.• It is the ability to express your feelings and ask for what you want from each other.• In successful couples, both individuals tend to be quite assertive.
  18. 18. Communication Strategies How to Be Assertive• Don’t assume your partner can read your mind.• Share how you feel.• Ask clearly and directly for what you want.• Avoid statements that begin with “you.”• Be positive and respectful.
  19. 19. Communication Strategies Active Listening• Active listening is the ability to let your partner know you understand by restating their message.• Good communication depends on your ability to carefully listen to the other person.
  20. 20. Communication Strategies How to Listen• Listen without interruption.• Restate what you heard.• Acknowledge content AND the feelings of the speaker.• This process lets the sender know whether or not the message they sent was clearly understood.
  21. 21. Let’s Practice Speaker Listener• Think of something you’d • Listen carefully to your like more of (or less of) in spouse. your relationship: • Pay attention to both words ____________________ and feelings, then say:• Turn to your spouse and • “You wish we had more (or say: less) _________ in our• “I wish we had more (or relationship.” less) _________ in our • “And if your wish came relationship.” true, you would feel• “And if my wish came true, ________.” I would feel ________.” • “Did I get it right?“ • “Did I miss anything?”
  22. 22. Creating Connection The biggest problem in relationships is not conflict. It’s a lack of connection.• We all need someone who is (a) emotionally available and (b) responsive to our needs.• We continually make “bids” for each other’s attention, closeness, and reassurance through comments, questions, and/or gestures.
  23. 23. Creating Connection• In successful marriages, spouses respond positively to bids 86% of the time.• Through their words and their actions, they invite more connection.• They communicate (with or without words), “You matter to me,” and “I want to connect with you, too.”
  24. 24. Creating Connection• In fact, even during conflict, successful couples make at least 5 (yes, five) positive remarks for every 1 (one) negative remark.• (Note: When not in conflict, the ratio is 20 to 1.)• So how do we resolve conflict?• Most disagreements are really just misunderstandings. “The way we see the problem is the problem.” ~ Stephen Covey
  25. 25. Steps for Conflict Resolution1. Set aside a time to talk.2. Listen to each other using the speaker-listener technique. Pay attention to how the other person feels.3. Clearly define the problem.4. Talk about your own contribution to the problem.5. Discuss past attempts to resolve the problem.
  26. 26. Steps for Conflict Resolution6. Brainstorm about possible solutions.7. Evaluate your possible solutions and likely results.8. Agree on something to try.9. Evaluate the outcome.10.Reward yourselves!
  27. 27. We need your feedback.1. What did you like best about today’s presentation?2. What has been most helpful to you as a couple?3. What would you like us to add or change about this presentation?
  28. 28. Thanks for your feedback!And thank you for investing in the future of America by supporting one another! You’re the Best!
  29. 29. Dance With MeRelationship Workshops Dr. Debi Smith Fred Judkins Clinical Psychologist Dance Leader