5. No "buts"! Here's something that happens with just about everyone. One person may have mirrored beautifully and her partner feels fully understood and then, boom! She trails off into another sentence by continuing, "But … " That little word usually negates everything that came before it. It's a conversation killer. Avoid it.
6. Go easy on the questions. We tend to think that questions are good for conversation when in fact, many questions are dangerously loaded. Behind most questions is emotion. Ponder this one: "Don't you think that's foolish?" (You're really actually saying, "That's dumb!" in the form of a question.) Or, "Don't you think you should … ?" That's manipulation if I ever heard it!
7. Express emotion. Rather than asking questions, using "you" statements or impatient interruptions, ask yourself what you want from this discussion. What is your goal? What do you want to get across? What do you want your partner to know about you? Simply, what are you feeling about yourself, about your partner? Then say that. There's nothing more powerful.
8. Tell the story. We're story-telling creatures. Novel-readers, soap-opera-watchers and explainers. When I feel something, I will probably try to explain it to myself immediately, assuming that I then know what's going on. Maybe my husband turns his eyes to the clock while I'm talking. I just know he doesn't care about what I'm saying!
Telling the story sounds like this: "When you turned away from me, I felt lonely and unconnected. What I told myself about that was that you didn't care about me as much as I care about you."
A useful conversation falls apart when partners attack, defend or withdraw. These "rules" help to keep the connections clean. They are simple. They are not easy, but they will effectively change the way you address — and resolve — issues.