Taking Action Against Negative Communication Patterns

blame communication defensiveness shutdown
An illustration of a woman holding a map. A green bubble is around her with the rout showing. The title says Taking Action Against Negative Communication Patterns with the Instagram handle @DrTracyD and the web address www.DrTracyD.com

So we’ve identified what’s behind the negative communication patterns in your relationships, what do you do next? (If you’re not already familiar with what’s behind these negative communication patterns, check out this blog.)

Let’s take action!

If you tend to blame or criticize:

  • Remember, when we feel uncomfortable emotions, we want to find some way to discharge that pain. It is easy or safe to stay in anger and blame.
  • What is underneath the anger for you? Ask yourself these questions: What softer emotion is coming up? Are you feeling overwhelmed? Anxious? Sad?
  • Before being able to communicate this, you need to identify what is happening. What is the issue? What triggered you to feel this? Was there anything happening before this? What did this remind you of?
  • A key tip for dealing with blame and criticism? Use a soft start-up! ((Link to a resource on this)

If you tend to get defensive:

  • Ask yourself these questions: What is your partner doing that is triggering you to get defensive? What part of you is being stirred up?
  • The antidote to defensiveness? Take responsibility. Your only job is to own what happened OR acknowledge the experience that your partner is having and your impact on them.
  • Don’t defend your position. Don’t explain why you did it or what your reasons were. Instead, focus on what your partner is trying to communicate to you. Be curious and try to understand what your partner is saying.

If you tend to withdraw and shut down:

  • What is happening inside when withdraw? For most, they become overwhelmed and flooded. They may feel confused, unsure of how to respond, or feeling like they are in a rock and a hard place. Sometimes they feel like anything they say will add fuel to the argument and there is no “way out.”
  • Let your partner know when you are feeling overwhelmed and ask to take some time away from the conversation. Be sure to let them know that you want to come back to it.
  • Now, you need to do some self-soothing, which may look like going for a walk, doing some deep breathing, taking a shower, or doing something that brings you joy.

Set aside some time today to share with your partner what position you tend to take in your relationship. Open the conversation with curiosity and ask them what it is like when you approach them in this way.

I want to emphasize that all couples get into these types of communication patterns. What sets apart connected and secure couples is their ability to repair their communication quickly.

Ready to stop the repeating arguments, communicate your needs, and improve your intimacy? Join me in my online program, Be Connected. I can't wait to see you there.