It’s largely about the set-up.

Do not go into a difficult conversation with your partner without establishing a solid frame. This gives you the best chance to be heard and for the exchange to go well.

1. Ask if this is a good time. You don’t want to attempt an important dialogue when one of you is tired, rushed, pre-occupied or not sober. 
2. Remember the goal: To understand, if you are the listener. To make yourself understood, if you are the talker. This is not a battle for who is right and who is wrong.
3. Recall “Help Me Help You” which enables a Win/Win. In other words, if I give to my partner, I give to the relationship, which in turn, helps me. Everyone wins.
4. Each partner needs to check his/her boundaries. The listening partner needs to pull up the protective boundary (this is mostly about my partner, not about me). The talking partner needs to solidify the containing boundary (no attacking or disrespect).
5. The listening partner needs to remember love and generosity. How can I help my loved partner who is currently in distress?
6. Own your part. “Yes, Honey, you are right. I did …” These words are miracle grow on your suffering connection.
7. Validate. Knowing what you know about your partner and his/her story, how does your partner’s pain make sense to you?
8. Empathize. How do you imagine your partner feels?
9. Invite and request rather than complain and “go victim.” “In the future, my request is …”
10. Give what you can without over-promising or laying the ground for later resentment.
11. Talker, be grateful for the response you get.

Try it. Even if you fumble and get it wrong, it will probably be better for all parties, and mostly, the relationship than whatever mess you are making or cold-war you are starting now.

It’s largely about the set-up.

For the rise of your life …

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