According to marriage therapist Dr. Harville Hendrix, there are three basic steps to achieving healthy communication including an extra "gift" that will really strengthen your dialogue with your partner. Known as the Imago technique, Harville says, "Couples are able to create stronger relationships by first becoming more aware of just how deeply interconnected you are." By offering you a change to recognize the unconscious agenda each partner brings to the relationship, both of you can grow together in a creative, non-controlling and healing way based in understanding each other's wants and needs.
Try the 4-step intentional dialogue exercise with your partner to work through any issues or disagreements that may be holding you back from a more intimate and fulfilling relationship.
Step 1: Mirroring
How to listen to your partner without distorting his thoughts and feelings.
Dr. Hendrix says the first step of an intentional dialogue is to mirror your partner and let him be heard without judgment. Follow this basic script with your partner.
- Tell your partner the message you would like him to hear. The message should start with "I" and describe your feelings. (Example: "I feel hurt when you talk down to me.")
- Your partner then mirrors your message. Example: "If I got it, you feel hurt when I talk down to you. Did I get it?"
- If you feel your partner didn't understand your message, explain again and have him mirror you until the message is received.
- Complete the message. If you were heard accurately, your partner says, "Is there more about that?" This helps you complete your feelings and prevents your partner from responding to incomplete messages.
- When the message is completed, your partner then summarizes all of the message. (Example: "Let me see if I got that...")
- He should check for accuracy with, "Did I get it all?"
When your message has been heard accurately, you can then move on to the next step.
Next: Why it's not enough to just listen