Marriage and Relationship Advice: How To Talk About An Issue

What You Say When You Have A Conflict With Someone You Care About
by Gene Griessman, Ph.D.

Recently one of my relatives attended a retreat with her husband of 20-plus years. She came back excited about the experience. What she found most useful was learning a new way to communicate with her spouse.

As she explained what happened, I was struck by how what she learned utilizes some very effective communication concepts, including a technique that Abraham Lincoln regularly used in the courtroom. (More on this below. I have taught this particular technique for several years in my seminar “The Vocabulary of Leadership.)

Here’s what she told me she learned:

One. Ask if this is a good time to talk. If it isn’t a good time, agree on a time that is good.

Two. Make the statement: “I am frustrated by…”

Three. The other person “mirrors” (i.e.,repeats) the statement that has just been made, and then asks: “Did I get that right?” This is the question that lawyer Lincoln used so effectively. Lincoln would re-state his opponent’s argument carefully, without biasing it in any way. Lincoln would often state the argument more cogently and generously than his opponent had been able to do. Then Lincoln would ask: “Do I understand you correctly?” Or, “Did I get that right?” The advantage this question affords in a debate or in a relationship conversation is that it prevents the other party from later saying, “You don’t understand me.”

Four. Continue the above back-and-forth dialogue until the message is exact and understood by both parties.

Five. Validate the other party by saying, “I can understand why you…”

Six. Empathize. State that you care…

This is by no means a complete exposition of a concept that was learned and then practiced over a two-day weekend retreat. However, the above statements can be effectively used in all sorts of social situations, not just conversations about marriage.

–Gene Griessman is an internationally known keynote speaker, actor, and consultant. His video “Lincoln on Communication” is owned by thousands of corporations, libraries, and government organizations. He has spoken at conventions all over the world. To learn more about his services, contact us at 404-256-5927, 404-435-2225, or abe@mindspring.com Learn more about Gene Griessman at presidentlincoln.com and atlantaspeakersbureau.com

Don’t leave yet. Check out at least one other article. You’re already here. Why rush off? Whatyousay.com is full of good advice. We guarantee you’ll be a better communicator if you invest more time here.

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Gene Griessman is an internationally known keynote speaker, actor, and communication strategist. His book “TheWords Lincoln Lived By” is in its 23rd printing and “Time Tactics of Very Successful People” is in its 43rd printing. His training video “Lincoln on Communication” is owned by thousands of corporations, libraries, and government organizations. He has spoken at conventions and annual meetings all over the world. To learn more about his presentations, call 404-435-2225. Learn more at Atlanta Speakers Bureau or at his website. His latest book “Lincoln and Obama” has just been released by Audible.
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