Dr. John Gottman’s describes one way to communicate difficult feelings within a couple is by utilizing what he calls the slow start up. I have found the process also helpful within families, with children, in the workplace, and amongst friends. Gottman believes it is all about the way we begin verbalizing our feelings and needs.
Now we all have found ourselves in situations where we approach our partners “guns” firing in all directions. Usually the person responds defensively with criticism, real contempt, defensiveness or they stonewall us. I think we can all recall where we have been on both sides of this type of argument.
I support Gottmans’s belief that if you begin communicating your needs in a “soft” way the message is better received. Describe the situation neutrally, using “I” statements and state what we need — not what we are NOT getting. That is like stab in the heart.
So: Say what you are feeling
Describe the problem neutrally — but don’t blame the other person
Say what you need
Ready to try it out?