There are so many times that I am sitting with a couple who are in distress, feeling unheard and struggling through difficult communication.  They unintentionally are making the process so much harder for themselves.  I can see them getting stuck in the who is right argument and discounting the reality that there can be more than one truth.  This is where a small shift can make a big difference!

Scratching your but.  When I hear someone trying to validate or give credit to someone's effort and then that word comes out.  "But".  The deadly "but".  It instantly negates everything that was said before. It robs the conversation of any value that was trying to be given.  Validation gone.  You have heard it before.  You might even be the one who does it.  It sounds a little like this:  "I know you are having a tough time, but..."  "I can see that you didn't mean to make me angry, but..." "I hear you when you say this is hard for you, but..."  I know you said you were sorry, but..."  The options go on and on and on. Once you say the dreaded but doesn't matter if you are having a tough time or didn't mean to make me angry or if it is hard for you or if you were sorry.  It doesn't matter anymore.

Try this simple shift on for a major difference.  Scratch your but and replace it with the all powerful word "and".  "I know you are having a tough time, and..." "I can see that you didn't mean to make me angry, and..." I hear you when you say this is hard for you, and..." I know you said you were sorry, and..." Can you tell the differences?

Give it a whirl and see the conversation move forward!

If you are looking to improve your relationship communication and connection, contact Elliott at elliott@insightbrookline.com.  Be sure to check out his new book: Couples by Intention: Creating and Cultivating Relationships That Matter! at all major booksellers.