How many times have you asked your partner to put the cap on the toothpaste? Or put his dirty clothes in the laundry basket instead of on the floor? When our requests get blown off, we are often left with feelings frustrations that slowly push us to our wits' end. Before you jump to the conclusion that your partner doesn't care, is insensitive or is just plain lazy, give the following techniques a try:
- Take a different approach. The goal here is to present your request in a way that doesn't sound accusatory or negative and thereby cause a defensive reaction (which we all know will snowball into an argument). An effective approach is to make an objective statement about the situation, without using the word "you." Take the toothpaste example: "You never put the cap on the toothpaste" vs. "The toothpaste cap is frequently off" conveys very different messages. It may seem like a silly tweak in grammar, but using objective statements will make a big difference to the ears of your partner. Your request will be more likely to be heard instead of lost in the shuffle of a defensive overreaction.
- Name what you need. Anyone who has ever been a toddler knows that it's a lot easier to demand something than learn to ask for it nicely. It's very common for people in relationships to fall into the bad habit of making demands instead of communicating needs. We all want to feel important and know that we matter to our partners, and it can be difficult to identify the specific things you need to feel connected. Take the time to sit down and figure it out. To identify your need, fill in the following sentence: If my partner responded to my request, I would feel like I ________________ to him/her. 3 Signs He's Not The Marrying Kind
- Identify the feeling. When our requests go unanswered, we often feel frustrated. Keep in mind that frustration is a secondary emotion and is not the root of the problem. For requests to pack a punch, we have to dig a little deeper and identify the softer (or the primary) feeling underneath frustration. Primary emotions include: fear, sadness, anger or shame.
- Talk it out. Once you've identified the what you need and the primary emotions driving those needs, it's time to put it all together and look at the big picture. Sit down with your partner when you are both calm. Start with describing the situation objectively (see #1), then let your loved one know how you feel when that happens (see #3) and then communicate what you need (#2).
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