What’s a main reason that relationships fail? Communication. Yes, thats right! Misunderstood, negative, and avoided communication derails relationships. If you think about your own relationships, something small can sometimes turn into a big miscommuncation. People come into to see me when they feel like they have not been able to work these miscommunications out on their own at home.
Good news! There is a simple technique I teach to couples that dramatically improves communication in peoples relationships, so get excited! The Imago Intentional Dialogue helps couples connect and communicate in a safe and structured manner. This relationship tool has three parts: mirroring, validation, and empathy. Let’s break down mirroring:
- Mirroring: repeating back what you heard your partner say, using their words verbatim as much as possible, to convey active listening and being available and present
- Check out: “have I got you?” making sure you are getting your partner, and giving your partner a chance to clarify anything or say again what they want you to get
- Keep going: “tell me more” listening in a way that makes your partner want to keep talking, managing your own reactivity, and letting your partner flush out what they need to express to you
It is important to note that the listener doesn’t just get railroaded with the couples dialogue, as the listener also has a legitimate grievance , but the point is that its the listener’s time to listen. If the listener has some issues and wants to talk to their partner, you can initiate a couples dialogue at a later time.
It’s about practicing listening to each other. It can be incredible to feel heard and to feel validated about whats going on for you. Its an awesome tool to learn, and I challenge you to try mirroring your partner, family, or friend, when they are frustrated with you about something.
This simple technique of mirroring dramatically improves communication in peoples relationships. This is just PART of the couples dialogue. An Imago therapist can facilitate the full dialogue, helping couples deeply explores important issues, using validation and empathy.
Questions to think about:
- How is your communication?
- Do simple issues turn into a big fight?
- Is your relationship ok most of the time but you have a couple hot issues to work through? Do you have pervasive issues but wants to resolve things?
I recommend coming to counselling as a preventative measure and learn how to manage conflict when it comes up. You do not want to wait until a big issue comes up, like an affair, which leads to longterm counselling or, even worse, divorce, which is very expensive and painful. Prioritize your relationship, put time into it, as it’s just an important as your job. Experiment with mirroring this week!