Communication Tips | Do You Hear Me?

Communication Tips | Do You Hear Me?

by Wyatt Fisher, Psy.D.

It’s commonly known that communication is one of the most difficult, yet critical, elements to successful relationships. Whole books have been written helping men understand women better and vice versa. The main problem is that men, on average, communicate to solve problems while most women communicate to process their feelings. The following is an example of this type of communication between an average couple. Note how Matt’s communication style pushes them further apart unintentionally.

 

Jennifer: I’ve had such a frustrating day with my boss. He won’t listen to me and I feel over-worked and under-appreciated.

Matt: Have you tried talking to him about it?

Jennifer: No, it’s just so exhausting to work day in and day out and feel like my work is not recognized.

Matt: I think you should talk to him about it or find another job.

Jennifer: Matt, stop trying to fix me, I’m just trying to vent!

Matt: I’m not trying to fix you….I am just trying to help!

 

Men need to understand that women are usually searching for empathy and validation. “….Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak…” (James 1:19, NIV). Men need to become skilled at sensitive statements, such as “I can really see how you would feel hurt” or “Wow, that must be so frustrating for you.” In my private practice, countless women have expressed frustration and resentment with their partner for continually offering solutions because that is not what they need. Instead, they are looking for a compassionate response. Therefore, a good rule of thumb is to never offer advice to a woman unless she asks for it. Instead, focus on her emotions, track her experiences, and then comment accordingly. Read the revised dialogue below as Matt applies these principles and watch how his communication brings them closer together.

 

Jennifer: I’ve had such a frustrating day with my boss. He won’t listen to me and I feel over-worked and under-appreciated.

Matt: I can really see how you would feel frustrated by not having your boss listen to you or appreciate your work.

Jennifer: Yea, I feel like I try my best but my work keeps getting ignored.

Matt: That must be really demoralizing because I know how important your work is for you.

Jennifer: Thanks, I feel like you really get it.

Matt: Sure, what else are you feeling?

 

Another advantage to this type of communication is that men can release themselves from feeling responsible to “solve” their spouse’s problems. Lifting this responsibility can be tremendously freeing for men as they switch their goal to sensitive listening instead. Men who hone these empathic listening skills are well on their way to having a more successful and satisfying relationship with their partner. Remember, this new way of interacting will feel awkward initially; however, with practice, it will soon become more natural as it propels your relationship to a much higher level of emotional intimacy.

 

Please share this post with others and comment below! 

 

 Dr. Wyatt Fisher is a licensed psychologist in Denver, CO and founder of ChristianCrush, the Colorado Marriage Refresh, and Fisher Christian Counseling Services

 

 

 What would you recommend for couples to have effective communication?

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