Friday, November 6, 2020

Helping couples to change their dialogue in order to resolve their conflict and improve their relationships

In couple counseling and conflict resolution, it’s often to see the following dialogue examples between person A with “Filter A”, and person B with “Filter B”. “Filters” represent our values, beliefs, and past experiences in the diagram above.

Person A says, “It’s a square”.

Person B says, “It’s a rectangle”.

Person A says, “I don’t know why you keep saying it’s a rectangle when it’s a clearly a square.”

Person A says, “I can see why you say it’s a rectangle, but you are wrong. It’s a square.”

In couple counseling and conflict resolution, we try to shift the above dialogue to....

“Okay, so you see it as a rectangle. Can you tell me more so that I can understand?”

“I can see why it seems like a rectangle to you, AND at the same time, I see it as a square. I wonder how we can move forward with that?”

“Ahh, it’s a prism, and we are both correct in our own way.”

“Okay, so in this context, which way of seeing is the most helpful?”

Coaching couples to be more defuse, present, and more acknowledging of the other person’s perspective, rather than being critical/defensive/avoidant, is key in conflict resolution.  It’s not easy of course, with our strong fight or flight response. It’s only human. Awareness, patience, and practice, will help our patients move towards positive change. 

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