The Power of Two: Braid Your Dialogue

Welcome back to my review of The Power of Two by Susan Heitler. In our last post we covered the seventh basic of listening, use bilateral listening. We discussed the ways in which we listen or don’t listen to others as we attempt to multitask or win a discussion and how they are harmful to the dialogue. Today we will be diving into the first basic of dialogue which is, braid your dialogue.

-Courtney, Graduate Intern

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                What makes the difference between having a dialogue and a monologue? Well it’s simple; dialogue is two people talking whereas a monologue is one person talking. Well what do you call it when two people are talking but not hearing each other? You would still call this a dialogue but I think it’s safe to agree that it wouldn’t be a very productive one. Heitler identifies three types of dialogue, oppositional, parallel and braided. Oppositional dialogue is when two partners are acting and speaking against one another and their view points. This is one of those “I win you lose” type of conversations wherein reality neither of the individuals is winning nor being heard. Parallel dialogue is when two completely different conversations or trains of thought are occurring at the same time. Again, neither partner is being heard nor are they making any progress on addressing their concerns or goals. So we turn our attention away from these maladaptive patterns and instead explore braided dialogue.

Braided dialogue is a cooperative and collaborative way to communicate with your partner or another individual. Braided dialogue focuses on interlacing the thoughts and perspectives of the individuals to create a new mutual understanding. In this way both people in the conversation can experience a level of satisfaction in knowing they are not only heard but understood.  Braided dialogue pulls together skills from previous ‘basics’ and builds upon them to create this type of dialogue. We will be combining our use of the word ‘and’, bilateral listening, basic reiterations and checking for clarification.  

1.  Use “Yes, … and….” to demonstrate cooperation with your partner and understanding

                à Follow yes with what it is you agree with from the conversation thus far

  • Follow and with your perspective
  • Avoid “Yes,…but” as this can minimize or demean your partner or communicate lack of understanding

2.  Pool your concerns by gathering information as you use bilateral listening

3.  Interrupt your partner to keep them on topic, reiterate what they have been saying, check for clarification and show that you understand what they are communicating

                à Be specific in your reiterations

  • Interrupt before conversation becomes a monologue or worsens the emotional state of your partner

4.  Take your time! Listen to your partner and really digest what it is they are communicating. Digest out loud so your partner is present with you and can help provide clarity. 

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.

If you or a loved one live in the Chicagoland area and are seeking couples counseling or looking to improve overall communication skills within interpersonal relationships we encourage you to contact Olive Branch Counseling Associates today to set up an appointment to speak with someone from our team! Contact us at 708-633-8000 or online at www.olivebranchcounselingassociates.com

Photo Credit: http://www.cedarwoodfoundation.org/dialogueworkshop

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