Today a more tactical strategy for averting a complete breakdown in communication: The power of the question "What is it that you're saying to me that you feel that I'm not hearing?"
Right now, I'm in one of the most incredible relationships that I've had in my life and, regardless of how "aware" or "communicative" I think I am, at the end of the day there are moments in time where I find myself in a conversation that ends up in total breakdown.
The Pink Elephant Promise is great. It really has allowed for a momentary pause and a commitment to find a resolution much faster than I've ever experienced in my life. However, even in the conversation that ensues, I find that my triggers get activated sometimes without knowing that they are being triggered.
I've actually found myself in some conversations where I can actually see myself uncontrollably going down a path of destruction. It's as if I'm watching myself about to jump off a cliff and the other me is saying "Noooooooooooooooooo! Don't do it, don't say it!" While I've been getting better and can sometimes stop and pause, there are other times when it's too late, and I find myself right in the heart of an old pattern of communication reminiscent of a frustrated teenager living at home. I can actually watch myself growing more and more frustrated, my voice getting louder, and I'm starting to talk faster. It's like a snowball running down the hill gaining velocity with each word coming out of my mouth. And with each word, the intended outcome and resolution drifts farther and farther into the distant future.
We both walk away shut down, frustrated, and a bit passive aggressive.