Effective communication solves problems – here’s how.


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Effective communication is the best way to solve problems in any relationship, but communication today is difficult for many reasons:

– Technology getting in the way of gaining someone’s attention.
– Demands on your time from other’s and/or work.
– Stress
– Focussing on presenting your defence before you’ve heard the problem
– Identifying a solution to the wrong problem due to misunderstanding or
misinterpretation.

Here is a method for effective communication that has proved successful with couples and partners I have worked with.

1. Agree the problem:

Both parties need to agree the problem that needs to be resolved.

Try to be specific where you can. Make sure that the problem does not come across as a personal criticism but as a shared problem. The most important thing is that you both agree what the problem is that you are trying to resolve.

e.g: I’m sick of you nagging
I’m hurt when you put me down all of the time

Stated as a shared problem:

“How can we communicate with mutual respect?”
“How can we state what we need from each other in a positive way?”

If you don’t achieve this step don’t move onto step 2. Instead consider asking an independent third party for help.

2. Book a meeting with each other in a neutral environment.

3. Prepare for the meeting:

Each party writes down how they think that the problem can be resolved. There must be no criticism of the other party. If there is any criticism at all about any other person or process it must be constructive.

4. The meeting:

a) Flip a coin to see who reads their notes first. This creates neutrality – very important.
b) Person a then reads.
Person b must actively listen, not comment, not ask for clarification and
remain silent.
c) Person b then reads.
Person a must actively listen, not comment, not ask for clarification and
remain silent.
d) Do not discuss either person’s notes
e) Agree the topic for the next meeting:

E.g.: A proposed joint way forward based on both presentations.

5. 2nd meeting:

a) Flip a coin to see who reads their notes first. This creates neutrality – very important.
b) Person a then reads.
Person b must actively listen, not comment, not ask for clarification and
remain silent.
c) Person b then reads.
Person a must actively listen, not comment, not ask for clarification and
remain silent.
d) Discuss any differences and agree a single way forward.
e) Write the joint way forward together agreeing to allocate and take responsibility for any actions to be taken.
f) Agree and commit to the way forward.
g) Agree how you are going to monitor progress jointly.
h) Agree an appointment for a progress meeting.

6. At your progress meeting follow the same process as for point 5 to discuss the progress you have made in resolving the problem.

I know it seems complicated, but it isn’t.

This process works!

(but only if you behave as two adults and two equal parties)