Four Key Skills For Positive Solutions
Typically a negative cycle starts when one person (#1) does or says something that is viewed as a criticism or an attack, or is uncalled for. The person perceiving the attack (#2) then becomes defensive and either attacks back or withdraws and it escalates from there.
How to break that negative cycle?
A key question to ask is: what could the two of you do differently so you don’t keep repeating the old pattern?
In a conscious relationship three things you could do differently next time are:
- In a partnership, typically person #1 says or thinks, “… if #2 would just change everything would be OK,” but of course person #2 thinks or says the same thing, and as a result nothing changes. We teach that in a conscious relationship, even if your partner does the same thing again and again, you need to ask yourself, WHAT CAN I DO TO GET A DIFFERENT OUTCOME, so that the same situation in the future doesn’t escalate.
- Tell your partner how you felt about what they said. Make sure they know that their words or actions felt like an attack. They may not have realized how their words / actions affected you.
- Suggest to your partner, what would be more helpful for you the next time that situation arises.
Here is how the four key skills we have talked about play out in an actual real life scenario.
Suppose #2 feels attacked or misunderstood by their partner. I encourage #2 to NOT REACT. Is that possible? Well, take it to a work situation. If the boss or a customer says something that seems uncalled for, can you react negatively? Most people will agree that you shouldn’t because it might result in a lost job or a lost customer.
By not reacting, #2 has given himself or herself time to process what just happened. Was my partner really criticizing me? Perhaps they were just tired or not feeling well? Or was I tired and just in a funky mood? Often times the situation can be clarified with just a little thought.
But if there is still a feeling of negativity towards the issue and #2 still feels criticized or attacked then they can move into the 4 key skills of a conscious partnership.
Skill #1 – ask for an appointment. It could be later that day or the next day when there is less emotional charge and those involved have settled down. “Can we talk about what happened last night, or this morning, or whenever?” Then,
Skill #2 – both partners commit to the intentional dialogue process of mirroring, validation and empathy. This process takes the issues out of the power struggle (“I’m right and you are wrong”) and assures that both partners will be heard. No one is right or wrong, both partners are just given a chance to address their feelings toward the situation.
Skill #3 – eliminate all negativity from the relationship. This means no blame, shame or criticism. This can be a tough one because in a conscious partnership, it is the person on the receiving end (of the perceived attack) who determines if something was negative or not. My partner might just think they were kidding, but if it comes across as negative to me, then it is they who have to change their approach.
Here is where the three points I made at the start can play out. Tell your partner:
1) what you think your partner could do differently in a similar situation
2) what I think I could do next time that might be helpful
3) suggest what would be more helpful for you if your partner did “x” in a similar situation
Skill #4 – amplify the positives. Make the effort to ramp up the positives on both sides all of the time, but perhaps more intentionally after an issue has been resolved.
Is this process easy? Probably not, but if you want a great relationship you have to break the negative communication cycle. You can keep doing it the old way or you can change – your choice. But you have four key skills you can implement that have worked for thousands of couples and they can work for you as well.