I ate lunch the other day with a group of women and men, most of whom were married. They all seemed to be in their mid-thirties and early forties.
Two men joked with each other about communicating with their wives and what it would be like to have multiple wives, as if they were opting for polygamy. They both shook their heads and decided it would be terrible because they’d need to be mind readers and make a lot more money, have more patience and time, and be much nicer.
Sitting beside them, I jumped in and said, “I don’t think women want mind readers. I think they want communicators. Most of us want to talk.”
Surprised, the men slowly acknowledged this.
“I think men are the group, if we are speaking categorically, who want mind readers. They often don’t want to be vulnerable or speak intimately. They usually want their wives and girlfriends to get it, know it, and believe it already, without a lot of talking,” I remarked.
Other people at the table then joined our discussion.
The discussion became very rich. One woman expressed that it’s challenging for her to express herself to her boyfriend and she wishes he could read her mind. So, I asked what she’d rather: if she could really have him read her mind OR communicate with him differently, what would she choose? She revealed that she’d prefer to talk to him, to develop intimacy and trust, but since their communication sometimes is polarizing and frustrating, her wish would be telepathy!
So, how do we make it so our significant others can (almost) read our minds? We talk clearly, then they understand and get us! As of 2017, I don’t know of a tool to read minds, but I do know of ways to make communication clearer.
Here’s what I’ve found:
Use “I” statements to express your wants.
- “I want to cuddle with you right now.” “I’m anxious about our financial situation.” Not: “I wish you would take out the trash.”
- If you’re having a perpetual misunderstanding, maybe it’s because you and your partner are not speaking and hearing the same language. You simply may communicate differently. So, how do you get to the same page?
Let your significant other finish what he or she is saying. If this is a problem and you interrupt a lot, find some way to remind yourself to keep quiet. Some people put their chin in their hand as a sign to themselves to not speak until their mate is finished talking.
Make Listening a Priority.
Listen without planning what you are going to say in response. Let go of your own agenda. Be aware that you need to listen. Make eye contact. Pay attention by not looking at the TV or glancing at your phone or finishing up a chore.
Use the Feedback Technique.
Let your partner know that you heard what they said by using a feedback technique and restating what was said. Say “I hear you saying…” Be open to the possibility that you didn’t understand clearly what your partner is trying to say. Keep practicing until you understand and your partner feels understood.
Watch for Non-Verbal Cues.
Be aware of the non-verbal signs and clues – yours and those of your partner. These include shrugging your shoulders, using a stern tone of voice, crossing arms or legs, nodding, tapping your foot, strong or reduced eye contact and facial expressions. A large portion of your message is delivered through non-verbal cues.
Adopt a Growth Mindset.
Imagine that your partner wants to sort this out easily, quickly and lovingly. Remember you are on the same team, not opposition parties. If you remember that both of you respect each other and love each other, it might make your communication warmer.
Once you try all of this, I suspect you’ll be on the same page and it will be almost as easy as telekinesis. Keep me posted.
For your couples’ communication questions, please get in touch with me. You might also like reading these posts: Why is it so hard to apologize?, All You Have To Do Is Ask and How His Moodiness Pushed Me Away.
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