Change One Little Word

Change One Little Word - Cheryl Woolstone Counselling Blog

It pays to think before you speak.

You can hear and feel the difference between “I need you to pick up your socks” and “You are so #@!! lazy”.

One version is load and shoot and the other is artful diplomacy.  The art of  speaking so other people listen can be dependent on the change of just one little word.

It is amazing how the choice of a particular word can turn a receptive partner into a defensive, antagonized person.

The curtain comes down…time to rewind.

In session, a couple can be heading in the direction of connection and clarity when a word is used that completely changes the tone. You can feel the energy shift in the therapy room.

You know all about this, your stomach drops, your heart rate speeds up, you feel your body tense up. Your defensive armour is on.

In session, I make sure not to let that moment pass. These are the moments that create rupture between couples. If they are unacknowledged and not addressed distress deepens. Repair is necessary.

Here is a simple overview of some of the powerful, semantic changes that I coach couples to adopt:

Cut out the BUT  – Put in the AND

Instead of: “I appreciate you picked the kids up from school BUT you forgot to put gas in the car.”

Try This: “I appreciate you picked up the kids AND it would be helpful if you could fill up the car next time you are out.”

The BUT negates the positive beginning. It is like floating up a balloon and then smacking it down. You hear the word BUT and you are waiting for the disapproval or criticism.

Focus on a Third Party

Instead of: “Will you stop smoking for my sake?”

Try this: “Will you stop smoking for the sake of the kids.”

Partners resent being told that they need to change. Defiance can kick in and the request, or demand, can be used as an excuse not to change. People often change because of their children, feelings of love and obligation are a deep motivator. Viewing yourself through your children’s eyes encourages a parent to think in terms of their ideal selves.

Yes WE Can

Instead of: THEY are trying to ruin our marriage with their meddling”

Try This: “WE have problems with how we are dealing with your parents”

If you are not part of the solution you are part of the problem. WE is about team and conveys a dedication to facing difficult situations together. And when it comes to the in-laws you are confronted with conflicts of loyalty and guilt. Be gentle, direct and speak your mind without alienating your partner.

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This entry was posted on Monday, December 6th, 2010 at 8:00 AM and is filed under IMAGO and Relationships. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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