Communicating without Attacking 

Communication that involves attacking your partner will not yield positive results. Instead, it is likely to create more problems for the relationship. Attacking your partner verbally may include obvious forms such as name calling, or it may include more subtle forms in an attempt to manipulate your partner.

Name calling is never productive. Calling your partner stupid, dumb, useless, crazy,¬†or an idiot is verbal abuse. Sometimes people will refer to their partner’s behavior and say, “I didn’t call you stupid, I said you act stupid.” Although slightly better than directly calling a person stupid, this approach is not likely to be helpful. Explaining that you don’t understand their reason for the behaviors is a much better approach.

Beware of judgmental words that are meant to hurt. Describing your partner’s “childish behaviors” and “selfish attitude” is not likely to lead to a helpful discussion. Instead, such words tend to put people on the defensive, which leads to arguing. If you dislike your partner’s behaviors, find ways to explain what hurt your feelings or bothered you without using such judgmental phrases.

Avoid the “you” messages that blame the other person. Statements such as “you never do what I want to do,” are not likely to be helpful. Instead, “I” statements such as “I feel hurt that we don’t ever get to visit my mother together” are more likely to lead to an open and honest discussion. “I” statements do not place blame but instead describe a feeling and can lead to a discussion that helps solve a problem.

Threats are never helpful. Whether the threat is to leave permanently, to stop doing something together with your partner, or to withhold things from your partner, threats cause damage to the relationship. Sometimes, threats are made out of desperation in an attempt to change the other person’s mind or behaviors. Although it may work in the short term, in the long term, threats cause¬†damage to the relationship.

One Response to “Communicating without Attacking”

  1. Wonderful piece on communication. I wrote on this very topic and it may be of interest to you:

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