q-100I often find myself slipping into delivery of a diatribe when I have an issue with my girlfriend, a pattern I’d like to break because it isn’t helpful.  How do I lay out my issue in order to speak with her and effectively resolve the situation without it feeling like a lecture and a pure statement of unalterable facts?  I keep thinking I need to lay out all of the facts as I understand them, even offering that I know I have some of it wrong and welcome corrections.  I still talk too much and I see the light turn off in her face.  It is like I am trying to win a case (I am a lawyer).




Excellent insights and self-refection! You recognize that your are giving her too much information, yet you want to cover all the bases.  Here are some suggestions:

  • Only tell her what you are feeling, thinking, needing and wanting, without ascribing cause, or using the word “you”
  • Leave silence for her to respond after each piece of information about yourself you have described
  • Ask her–rather than tell her–if she has insights on the issue, and listen to what she says, rather than endeavor to defend yourself
  • Notice if you are getting more forceful as you unfold what you have to say and, if so, acknowledge in words that you recognize it and take a break
  • Question whether the “facts” you are laying out are accurate, shared and agreed upon, or simply your perception or perspective. (They may be “emotional facts”: emotionally generated false information accepted as true by you and that you think requires emergency action by your girlfriend. )
  • Including in your diatribe that you may be wrong or inaccurate is often a  “cover your anatomy” approach to cover up your own fear of being wrong! Think about that.

Your lawyer analogy is a good one. Lawyers are out to win at all costs. If that’s not your need, then think about the items above.

If you want to talk about this, you can make an appointment with me to talk through Skype® or Google+ by USING THIS LINK.  You might also find value in doing the FREE Relationship Checklist. 

I wish you well.

Dr. Shaler

Rhoberta Shaler, PhD, The Relationship Help Doctor, works with individuals, couples and families in person, by phone and through Skype® video.    Get the support, skills, strategies and solutions you need to have the relationship you want now.  To make an appointment online or join a class, get more information by CLICKING HERE  or call 760.593.4604

153    Spouse/Partner  
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