If you want your partner to understand you better, try this
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Have you ever had a moment when your partner didn’t seem to understand how you were feeling or what was on your mind? We are all human and no one perceives their partner (or anyone else, for that matter) accurately all the time, so it is no exaggeration to imagine that your answer is almost certainly “yes”. But what about a time when you were really convinced that you were sending clear signals and messages, only to feel puzzled that your partner didn’t decode them? You could say that if you are like most people, you have also been through this.
So, is there any way for someone to increase the chances that their partner will understand them a little better? In one paper which has just been published, a team of researchers has studied this question. Specifically, they noted that they had decided to test an idea that seems pretty basic and is part of the core of multiple therapy approaches for couples, but has been largely ignored by relationship science. The idea is this: the ability of our partner to understand what we are feeling and thinking is related to the clarity with which we communicate these ideas and feelings to them.
Perhaps, right now, you are thinking, “Are you serious? In order for my partner to understand me better, do I need to share my perspectives and feelings more? I already do it !And if that’s what’s on your mind right now, I sure don’t blame you. After all, maybe you really are as distinct as a person can be, and your partner, for some reason, either cannot realize where you are from or is unwilling to do so. Plus, it seems like a pretty obvious and straightforward idea, so why are we even talking about it? However, what appears to be rather basic and elementary is anything but, and I think the authors of the article provide two important reasons why. First they quoted to research indicating that the task of reading another person is not a simple one: partners only correctly pick up on the other’s ideas and emotions about one-fifth to one-third of the time. Second, they cited a paper underline how the process of transmitting what one has in the mind and the heart is not as simple as it seems either; we know what is going on inside of us, and that leads us to mistakenly project this knowledge onto others and conclude that we are clearer and easier to read than we actually are.
To test this idea, they recorded couples talking about an area in which they differed, then the partners watched the recording without the other present. At certain points in the video, the researchers asked each partner to share what they thought and felt at the time, to rate how clearly they conveyed their ideas and feelings to their partner, and what ‘they thought their partner thought and felt. This allowed the research team to see how well partners felt they were conveying their inner world, and how well partners read each other. The researchers also had a separate group of reviewers watch each video and decide how difficult it was to decipher each partner’s thoughts and feelings.
The results of the study showed that the more people communicated what they thought and felt, the more their partner understood them. They also found evidence that the more the panel of independent reviewers could grasp what a person was feeling and thinking, the more that person’s partner could discern their inner world as well. Additionally, the research team found that the extent to which the panel of reviewers could read a person explained how well their partner could read them, above how much each person thought they were conveying their own inner experience. to his partner. As the researchers pointed out, this could indicate that clearer, more visible, and noticeable communication signals can help improve understanding.
At the same time, they also wisely noted that there was still work to be done on this topic. They listed examples such as testing this idea with diverse populations, highlighting exceptions to the value of partners communicating more clearly and understanding each other better, and identifying how partners can encourage greater openness with each other.
So what can you do with this knowledge? Here are a few tips :
- Consider the possibility that your communication with your partner may not be as clear or as obvious as you might think.
- Try to give your partner the benefit of the doubt. Assume that your partner has good intentions and that they just don’t have the information you think they have.
- Remember that you don’t have the full story of your partner because you are not on their mind, and consider the possibility that your conclusions about what your partner is thinking and feeling are incorrect, even though you are really thinking. that you are of course.
- Allow yourself to slow down and take a curious, interested approach that allows the both of you to check in with each other. If your partner doesn’t seem to understand how you are feeling or thinking, try asking them gently what they are getting out of the interaction. For example, how do they think you feel, or what do they think you are trying to say? Likewise, sometimes allow yourself to pause and share what you think your partner is trying to say, or what you think they are feeling. For example, you can try to word your interpretation provisionally and ask if you understood it correctly.
- Be patient with yourself and your partner in the process. Remember, the two of you really want to understand each other.