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How to complain constructively to your partner

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[howdini, get yourself a guru] Hi, I'm Katrina Zish. We're talking relationships, specifically, how to complain constructively to your partner. Joining me to help us do that is relationship expert and author of The New Rules of Marriage, Terrance Real. Terry, welcome. >>Thank you. So, Terry, everybody is going to have something to complain about at some point. Is there a way to do it in an effective way? Yes, there is, and you know what? The most important step is before you open up your mouth. I talk to people about what I call "remembering love." It's really keeping your eyes on the prize. Why are you complaining? Are you just there to vent or to prove that you're right or to try and nail your partner into the ground? That is not going to work. So remember that why you're complaining is to make things better. And the person you're speaking to is not the enemy, even though he or she may feel that way at that moment. The person you're speaking to is someone you love. And if you can't remember that it's someone you love, at least remember it's someone you're going to have to live with, so your job is to get this out in a way that's going to make things better. Okay, now once you realize that you're doing this to help the relationship, then how do you actually start the complaining? There are four steps: This is what I observed, this is the meaning that it had for me, this is what I felt, and a very important fourth step which a lot of people leave out, which is here's something you can say or do that would actually help me feel better. So step number one--this is what I observed--explain that. This is not the place to get into attitudes. You don't say, "You're always a selfish guy." No, it has to be what a video camera would record. A video camera can't record-- So an actual action, something someone did or said? >>Right. "You came in, you were stomping around, Tommy asked you to help with his homework, and you yelled at him." That's what a video camera can record. Keep it simple, and keep it behavioral. Step number two is explaining what this meant to me. Give me an example. That's hard to put my head around. Well, Tuesday my wife says to me, "Bye, honey. Have a nice day," and I feel warm and fuzzy about that because I think she's wishing me a nice day. Tuesday night we have a big fight. And Wednesday morning I'm walking away and she says, "Bye, honey. Have a nice day," and I make up in my brain that she's being sarcastic. And suddenly the whole thing takes on a very different cast. I don't know what objective reality is. I don't know what my partner is really saying, so I take responsibility for this is what I heard in it. Once you take responsibility--this is just what I'm making up about it-- this is the spot where you get to say all the mean, nasty things that you're really dying to say. "What I made up about this is that you're really selfish and you're really irresponsible and you're this, you're that, the other thing." You can say all this as long as you're clear. "I'm not saying you are these things; I'm saying that's what got kicked out in my brain." I like that. Okay. Step number three, this is how I felt. Right, and again, we're taking responsibility for how we feel. We don't say the word "made me." "You didn't make me feel--" "It didn't make me feel--" "This is what I felt." The other great thing is-- >> So you take responsibility for your own actions, really? You're own feelings? >>That's right. Whenever you're complaining well, you always say, "This is about me; it's not about you. I'm not telling what you are; I'm telling you what I'm going through." Ninety-nine out of a hundred times somebody says, "You know, Katrina, you did this and you did that and you're this and you're that and you always--" >>They're accusations; those are not actual feelings. No. >> Like, I was hurt. When you--that's right. When you're going to talk about a feeling, talk about a feeling. Joy, pain, anger, fear, shame guilt, love-- these are the primary feelings, like primary colors. So, "This morning you said have a nice day. The meaning that had for me was you're being sarcastic and cutting on me, and what I felt about that was hurt and angry." Simple. >>Okay. And the final step, this is how you can help me feel better. Yeah, I can't tell you how many times people say, "This is what you did wrong," without then saying, "Here's something you could do that would be right." >>For example? "I made up that you were being sarcastic. I felt really hurt and angry about that. I don't like it when you're sarcastic, and what you can do right now is you can apologize if you were being sarcastic or you can explain what was going on." It sounds so easy. >> It is easy. And then the last step, though, is the hardest-- which is, you have to let go. How your partner responds is up to them. But if you said what you need to say clearly and respectfully, you've done your job. Thanks, Terry. For more on this, check out "How to get what you want in your relationship." []

Video Details

Duration: 5 minutes
Country: United States
Language: English
License: All rights reserved
Producer: Howdini
Views: 455
Posted by: howdini on Jan 11, 2011

Tired of having your complaints fall on deaf ears? Relationship expert Terrence Real has four simple steps to help you complain constructively.

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