This exercise is to improve communication by "Processing", which means that you can talk about an incident that occurred without becoming activated and getting back into the argument. It needs to be a conversation – as if you were both sitting in the balcony of the theater looking down on the stage where the action had occurred. This requires calm and some emotional distance from the incident.
BEFORE YOU BEGIN
Keep In mind the GOAL Is Greater Understanding – addressing the process and how the issue was talked about, without getting back into the fight. So, wait until you're both calm.
Assume that each of your realities has validity. Perception is everything. Don't focus on "the facts."
Pay attention to the common barriers to communication and their antidotes as you move through the process. The "Four Horsemen" references can help.
THE FIVE STEPS
Work through the Following Five Steps Together
Share how you felt. Some common words/phrase:
REALITIES AND VALIDATION
Subjective Reality and Validation:
Examples of Triggers:
Validation - does any part of your partner's triggers and story make sense to you?
Under ideal conditions, you might have done better at talking about this issue. What set you up for miscommunication? Share how you set yourself up to get into this conflict.
What set me up – Examples:
Read aloud the items that were true for you on this list. Specifically what do you regret, and specifically, what was your contribution to this regrettable incident or fight?
What Do You Wish To Apologize For?
I'm sorry that:
If you accept your partner's apology, say so. If not, say what you still need.
Share one thing your partner can do to help make discussing the issue better next time.
Then, while it's still your turn, share one thing you can do to make it better next time.
What do you need to be able to put this behind you and move on?
Be as agreeable as possible to the plan suggested by your partner.
STOP THE FOUR HORSEMEN WITH THEIR ANTIDOTES
Thom Kessler, LMFT, RAS
Marriage & Family Therapist and Registered Addiction Specialist