One Communication Strategy to Rule Them All

A communication strategy that can elevate understanding for all parties of all relationships.

One Communication Strategy to Rule Them All

There are a number of communication strategies that I encourage people to learn and employ in their romantic relationships, but there is one specifically that can elevate understanding for all parties of all relationships. Inevitably, there is resistance when I tell people what it is because they think it is unrealistic or they do not want to spend the time doing it. Said another way, it is easier to make assumptions than to use this one communication strategy that rules them all.

I know, you are thinking, "Just tell us what it is, Steph," to which I say, please be patient. Let me tell you a story first.

Imagine two people having a talk about the future of their relationship. They both say out loud they would like to commit to each other. They are both stoked about the commitment, and go forth doing their relationship. A few weeks later, Person A gets their dream job a few hours away from where they live now. They are so excited that their life is finally lining up! They are in a happy, committed relationship, and they get to do work that really matters to them.

Person A is bursting to tell their partner, Person B. They cannot wait to celebrate. But when Person A tells Person B, Person B is really upset: "I thought we were committing to each other, and you are now telling me you are moving hours away!"

Person A is very confused. Just because they are moving does not mean they are not committed! They then spend hours trying to repair their relationship, their excitement now clouded by a misunderstanding.

The story demonstrates the significance of this strategy, and how insidious it can be to not use the skill. What is it? Literally: define your terms.

Define them all the time, please. Like I said, you might resist this. You might think it is too easy. But so often people use words in conversation assuming everyone has the same understanding of that word. Instead, there are often differences - sometimes vast, sometimes nuanced - that can create massive conflict because people do not perceive them the same way.

This week, I encourage you to have an intentional talk, where you begin by defining a term. Maybe you are able to identify a need to define a term in the moment, or maybe you know of a term that needs defining. If you need suggestions, maybe consider "commitment," "monogamy," or something less heavy like, "clean" or "relaxing."

When you begin a conversation understanding how people are using their words, you are able to avoid misunderstandings and develop a sense of how the person you are talking with sees the world.

Let me know if there are any terms you have found were especially important to define in your relationships.

In curiosity,

Dr. S. Kay Webb