Do you ever wonder if there’s some secret formula to getting through an argument successfully? How do couples resolve their issues and get to the point where they feel heard and understood?
What if I told you there IS a secret formula? What if I could show you the exact path to get your way and win every argument in your relationship? Would you do what it takes? At what cost?
Great. So I’m going to let you in on the secrets I share with my clients in couples counseling. It may seem disappointing at first, but stick with me. This formula is magic to your relationship when you finally get it down.
The Secret Formula to Winning Every Argument
- Give to get. The only TRUE way to win an argument, is to have your partner win as well. If your partner loses, you lose too. So, to truly win an argument in your relationship, you both have to win.
- Let your partner go first. It’s easy to think that we’re all adults here, but the truth is, people can hear SO MUCH BETTER when they first feel heard. Give your partner the gift of going first. Your turn will come.
- Show your partner respect. But what if your partner isn’t respecting you? Still, show your partner respect. This is the best way to calm the nervous system and allow them to get into a place of hearing you.
- Listen to them. This is the most important step. Listen like you’ve never listened before, even if you don’t agree. In marriage counseling sessions, I’ve seen the nastiest of arguments stop dead in their tracks when couples can master the art of listening.
How to Be a Great Listener
Listening is an art and, unfortunately, most of us were never taught how to do it…or at least how to do it right. Good listening doesn’t come from your ears, it comes from your heart. The first thing you’ll have to do to be a good listener is set your intention.
Is your intention to be heard? OR Is your intention to get to know your partner more?
Is your intention to get your point across? OR Is your intention to understand why what your partner has to say is so important to them?
Maybe your intention is to get your way (I know…that’s hard to admit). OR Do you truly want a solution that feels good for both of you?
It comes down to this…
If you want your partner to experience you as a good listener, make it about them.
- Set your intentions. How do you want this “listening” experience to be for your partner?
- Be curious. Ask questions that convey your true desire to want to understand. Your partner will know the difference between curiosity and building evidence to prove your point.
- Reflect back on what you’re hearing. This is such an important step. Let your partner know that you understand them NOT just by saying “I understand”, but by telling them exactly WHAT you understand.
- Ask them if there’s anything else. When people repeat themselves over and over, it’s not because they’re trying to rub your nose in something…it’s because they don’t feel fully heard and understood. Remember, it doesn’t matter if you think you’ve heard them or if you can even finish their sentence. Your partner is the only one that can determine if they feel like they’ve been heard. Always finish a conversation, conflict or disagreement by asking these questions.
- Is there something else you want me to understand about this?
- Does this feel finished for you?
- Is there anything else about this?
- Only once your partner is done and feels like the topic is finished, are you able to communicate your feelings. Hopefully, your partner will ask you to share and return the curiosity. If you’ve been in a bad place for a while, this might not happen. Prompt your partner by asking them if you can share your feelings now.
How to Get Your Partner to Open Up During An Argument
If your relationship is feeling shut down, you may need some new moves to signal to your partner that you’re going to communicate differently.
Here’s how you can start the conversation if you really want to improve your relationship:
- “It seems like there’s something on your mind. I want to talk to you about it, but before I do, what do you need from me in order to feel comfortable opening up?”
- “What’s on your mind?”/”What’s been upsetting you?”
- “Can you help me understand why this is important to you?”
- After almost everything your partner says, repeat back what you understand about their position or feelings.
Other Stellar Questions to Convey Great Listening
- What is your wish?
- Is there anything right now that you’re afraid to talk about or bring up?
- What do you need from me?
- Is there more going on that you’re afraid of or worried about?
- If you could change one thing about this situation, what would it be?
Going in for the Kill
You’ve been generous. Polite. Respectful. Curious. Patient. You’ll notice your partner softening. They may start feeling closer to you. They feel understood. When they’re in this place, they’re ready to reciprocate. They want you to feel this win too. And this is where you win. This is when your partner is ready to give to you the way you’ve given to them. And you may even find that now that you understand your partner better, your position might’ve changed.
Still Feelin’ Stuck?
In the event that you’re hitting some rough patches that this doesn’t solve, I’d like to invite you to reach out to one of our Lakewood, Colorado couples counselors or marriage therapists. We offer both in-person couples counseling and telehealth marriage therapy sessions. No argument is too big.
Reach out at (720) 583-5668 to schedule a free consultation and learn more about the couples counseling process. Not in Colorado, stay tuned for our upcoming Couple’s Communication Course and Relationship Workshop.