When you’re in the middle of an argument or power struggle, conflict resolution is often counterintuitive – what you should do is often the exact opposite of what you feel the most compelled to do in the moment.
The good news is, there are specific skills you can learn to dismantle arguments and help overcome power struggles in your relationships.
Instead of repeating old destructive relationship patterns, you can learn how to end recurring conflict and heal and forgive past wounds so that the trust is restored between the two of you – so you can safely connect with each other in a way that brings you CLOSER.
You can also learn how to understand and appreciate each other’s differences so that both of you can be yourselves with each other and live an authentic life together, so that you don’t need to change or manipulate your partner in order to get your needs met or keep the peace.
These Conscious Communication Skills work in ALL of your relationships in your life, not just in romantic relationships. Here’s the first one:
Ask Vs. Tell
Unless your intent is starting a fight, when you’re sharing something with your partner, it’s best to stay away from any kind of communication that TELLS them what to do or how to be.
For example, it’s best to remove any statement starting with “you should…” from your vocabulary, because it often comes across as a covert attack. Even if you don’t mean it that way or you’re just trying to be helpful, it immediately puts your partner in the defensive mode.
Instead, try asking questions that begin with “how” or “what.” Asking “how” or “what” questions can completely change the tone of a conversation. This works in all communication.
Rather than saying, “You should really do __________…” try, “How can I support you in getting this done?” or “What can we do to fix this?”
The first statement is likely to get a defensive response, while the second two statements come across as supporting, as though you’re facing the problem as a team.
You’ll want to steer away from “why” questions as well – because unless you’re genuinely interested, they can cause your partner to feel interrogated.
Questions such as, “Why haven’t you washed the dishes yet?” or “Why aren’t you ready to leave yet?” can also lead to defensiveness, and what you want to do is remove that defensiveness.
If you want to discover the true motivation behind your partner’s words, actions, or feelings – instead of asking, “Why are you feeling that way?” try something like, “Would you be willing to share with me why you’re feeling that way?” Instead of causing your partner to become defensive, you’re now working WITH them.