Whether you’re in the heat of conflict or a tense, but civil State of the Union discussion, tough topics make listening with your defenses down quite difficult.
If you find certain topics always put you on the defensive, here’s a trick straight from Dr. John Gottman. In “What Makes Love Last?” he notes, “When I feel defensive, I try to write down everything my wife says. I remind myself that I care about her and she’s in a lot of discomfort, unhappiness, or pain. I am feeling defensive, but I will get my turn to talk.”
This simple act helps you listen to your partner and perhaps understand their perspective better. It also gives you time to gather your thoughts. This significantly slows down the chance of escalating the situation with a sharp, biting comeback.
Want to give it a try? The next time you’re headed toward conflict with your partner, pause, breathe, and write down what they’re saying. You might see the conversation in a whole new way.
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