Don’t just listen, mirror!

What is the main reason that relationships fail?

Communication. Yes, thats right! Misunderstood, negative, and avoided communication derails relationships. Good news! There is a simple technique I teach to couples that dramatically improves communication in peoples relationships, so get excited!

sbsa couple_conversation

Maladaptive communication

A leading factor for relationship breakdown.  f you think about your own relationships, something small can sometimes turn into a big miscommuncation. People come into to see me when they feel like they have not been able to work these miscommunications out on their own at home. The Imago Intentional Dialogue helps couples connect and communicate in a safe and structured manner. This relationship tool has three parts: mirroring, validation, and empathy. Let’s break down mirroring:

  • Mirroring: repeating back what you heard your partner say, using their words verbatim as much as possible, to convey active listening and being available and present
  • Check out: “Have I got you?” making sure you are getting your partner, and giving your partner a chance to clarify anything or say again what they want you to get
  • Keep going: “Tell me more” listening in a way that makes your partner want to keep talking, managing your own reactivity, and letting your partner flush out what they need to express to you

sbsa conversation

The Important Things:

  • Note that the listener doesn’t just get railroaded with the couples dialogueas the listener also has a legitimate grievance , but the point is that it’s the listener’s time to listen. If the listener has some issues and wants to talk to their partner, you can initiate a couples dialogue at a later time.
  • It’s about practicing listening to each other. It can be incredible to feel heard and to feel validated about whats going on for you. Its an awesome tool to learn, and I challenge you to try mirroring your partner, family, or friend, when they are frustrated with you about something.

So, the simple technique of mirroring dramatically improves communication in peoples relationships. This is just PART of the couples dialogue. An Imago therapist facilitates the full dialogue, helps couples deeply explores important issues, and teaches and encourages validation and empathy.

  • How is your communication? Do simple issues turn into a big fight? Is your relationship ok most of the time but you have a couple hot issues to work through? Do you have pervasive issues but wants to resolve things?
  • Something to think about: I recommend coming to counselling as a preventative measure and learn how to manage conflict when it comes up
  • You do not want to wait until a big issue comes up, like an affair, which leads to longterm counselling or, even worse, divorce, which is very expensive and painful.
  • Last but not least, prioritize your relationships!

Grace McDonald, M.A., RCC, RMFT
Registered Marriage & Family Therapist
Registered Clinical Counselor
T 604-873-9355  F 604-874-9355
FB Grace McDonald Counselling
Twitter @GraceSMcDonald


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