Welcome back to my review of The Power of Two by Susan Heitler. In our last post we covered the third basic of communicating, no trespassing. We discussed crossovers and how to take away more from your conversations with your partner. Today we will be diving into the fourth basic of collaborative dialogue, no polluting.
-Courtney, Graduate Intern
Have you ever had the experience where you feel like your partner is repeatedly antagonizing you or that you guys are working against each other? Almost like everything they are saying is to hurt you or maybe, deflect from the obvious, or not so obvious, concern at hand. That my fellow readers, is the exact presence of communication pollution. Those words and comments that your partner uses are called toxic comments. Toxic comments come in the form of criticisms, trespassing, and lack of compassion. Susan Heitler speaks directly to this toxicity and provides the alternative option of approaching communication with tact, the focus of our conversation today.
Tact allows us to convey what we want to say without contaminating the discussion with derogatory innuendos. We see this is in the use of “I” statements, crossovers, and “When you…” statements. When we use these approaches to communicate our emotions, concerns, and needs to our partner, we do so without passing judgement and blame. This opens the potential to look at a situation over the person. This means we can look at the behavior or occurrence alone to understand it and then express that to our partner without placing responsibility on them. There is more to tact than this though. Tact and our ability to sustain goodwill with our partner comes through in our tone of voice, attitude, phrasing, connotation of words, and crossovers. In all these ways toxicity can present itself as well so we must be an active member within our conversations with our partner.
That is all a lot to take in, I know. It’s short but asks a lot. Heitler encourages us to do so much within not only this basic skill, but across all four basic skills. It takes practice so I encourage anyone and everyone to be easy and patient with themselves. Knowing how to practice compassion towards yourself and others as you learn more about one another is important in a relationship. Understanding that people make mistakes and that they still deserve acceptance and respect will expand the potential of your conversations with your partner. Heitler is looking for partners to view their mate in the best possible light, recognize their positive intentions and attributes, and allow them room for growth and learning. This is ideal for many I would like to think. Partners choose each other for the good and the bad, so if you have not in a while, tap back into what brought you and your partner together. Take 15 minutes today to discuss this with your partner and see what comes up!
Follow along as we continue to dive into The Power of Two and its use with married couples, dating relationships, and single people. Bear in mind all information provided comes as a review of Heitler’s book and from a clinician actively learning and utilizing the tools.