One of the primary methods I teach for reducing defensiveness at the Relationship Repair Counter is to Give the Benefit of the Doubt!
One way to think of what it means to Give Someone the “Benefit of the Doubt” is to tell them that You Believe in the Good in Them!
I observe that when someone is bringing up a relationship problem for discussion, the listener often gets focused on defending that they did not “intend” to hurt their loved one. Ultimately, humans want to defend their goodness, their intentions to not hurt, and the fact that they are trying to be a good mother, daughter, girlfriend, husband, etc…
We can help the listener to not get defensive about their intention and their goodness … if we Give the Benefit of the Doubt…
Of course, this is a way to improve Soft Start Up and to sound less harsh. Giving the Benefit of the Doubt also means that you are more likely to have your complaint heard and resolved at the Relationship Repair Counter.
Here are some ideas for giving the Benefit of the Doubt to Your Loved One…
Try saying one of these before you say your Relationship Complaint!
- “I know you love me and would never do something to hurt me on purpose”
- “You do so many wonderful things as a daughter, husband, mother, sister, I almost hate to bring up a concern… but I do have something on my mind that is eating on me…”
- “I understand that you did not intend to cause an inconvenience in my day, because you usually are so thoughtful…”
- “It is clear to me that you did not think about how I would perceive this, because I know you would not intend to upset me.”
- “I am very happy with soooo many aspects of our relationship, so I want to make sure you do not feel criticized when I bring up this concern I have.”
- “I will always love you and accept you even when we are having a problem… I know that we both have our flaws and that you do not do these things to cause me pain.”
- “All of your positive habits far outweigh the negative ones, but I still need to get this off my chest.”
- “I could not ask for a better wife, however there is this concern that keeps coming to mind. Could I ask you to do something that would help me feel better?”
Try out these phrases and see if you get a better response when you then bring up your concern (using the softer feelings that I wrote about in my blog post yesterday) …
If you need more help with communication and resolve relationship problems, we are here for you!