NLP Coaching Question:
QUESTION: “My husband seems disrespectful to me. When I complain about things, he turns it around on me and tries to make it my fault. He doesn’t think he ever does anything wrong, but I’m not getting the sense of connection I need in the relationship. He is an engineer and I’ve learned he is mostly Auditory Digital and is ‘SELF’ sorting. How can I live with this understanding of his patterns and create the best relationship possible?”
ANSWER: There do seem to be differences between men and women and there are some basic communication patterns that might be useful. Here are some primary points to consider:
Meet Him at His View of the World
The first thing to consider is the first rule of RAPPORT. ‘Meet people at their view of the world.’ If he is not making much eye contact, not facing you directly, and speaking more matter of fact, with a flat affect and in a kind of monotone, you will want to do the same. Stand at the same angle, finding a focal point for your eyes, probably off to the right, in the distance, with head tilted in that direction, and speak more in a monotone. Keep subject matter non-referring as to visual, auditory, or kinesthetic. Uses words like analyze, know, think, compute, formulate, etc.
The pattern is to pace first, and then you can lead. When the other person follows, you have unconscious rapport. It is sometimes formulated a ‘pace-pace-pace-lead’ but you want to pace as much and as long as it takes until you can lead and the other person follows your lead. When they stop following, go back to pacing. Listen for when voice patterns begin to have more ups and downs, when eye contact occurs, and anytime he moves his head or body to face you. Continue to ‘calibrate’ and do what he does, until… If you get more eye contact, give more eye contact.
Always Reinforce Positive Behavior
The second thing is to reinforce everything that moves your partner closer to the behavior you want to see and stop reinforcing behavior you don’t want to see. Remember, you get what you focus on. If you are focused on what he doesn’t do well, chances are he will do more of what you don’t want. If you are complaining, it is as if you just reinforced the unwanted behavior. After all, ‘the meaning of your communication is the response you get.’ Men tend to respond better to positive feedback. Focus on what he is doing well. Reinforce that.
Tell Him When You Just Want Him to Listen
As a general rule, pointing out what’s wrong just makes most men to become more defensive and causes them to retreat inwardly. It’s a defense mechanism. Don’t drive him into his cave. Men tend to think that if you are complaining about something, it is their job to fix it. This has been treated a lot in popular Psychology, but bears repeating. Problem is; that Men feel like they are already failing when you complain. The most common response is to defend or take him away. Distinguish verbally when you are just complaining or simply want to be heard, like when you are just blowing off steam, with when you want something fixed and they should be figuring out how to fix it.
Why go to all this trouble? It’s in your best interest to create the best relationship possible. Women often expect Men to be like their Girlfriends and believe they can vent all their emotional frustrations. Men don’t usually deal well with that. Men just want everything to go along and be OK. “If it ain’t broken…” But, if you are complaining, he thinks he should do something about it and it must be his fault that it’s not. And since he doesn’t want it to be his fault, it must be yours. He diverts attention if he can.
Communicate your boundaries and enforce them, but do not be always a ‘complainer.’ People can respect someone who sets boundaries and enforces them. In fact, it is kinder to let people know early where our boundaries are and then enforce them gently but firmly as necessary. However, we tend to treat complainers by tolerating them, putting them down, or otherwise trying to get them to stop.
Complainers Care about Something
We tend to forget an important thing about people who are complaining. They care about something. Wouldn’t you communicate differently if that was clear in your mind. Even men can get that and men tend to respond well when you ‘get them’ that way. It goes both ways. You can focus on the real issue or value underneath the outward communication. And be careful that when you have a complaint, it is not just blowing off steam. Communicate appropriately as we have already described. Be committed to full communication.
What most of have learned from the culture around us is to skirt the issue and try to avoid hurting feelings. Instead of speaking directly what we really think, we avoid the conversation and we fail to make clear requests. This is an example of the failure to ‘straight talk.’ In the absence of ‘full communication,’ people make things up. What they make up is rarely accurate or kind. So, fill in missing information to eliminate room for mischief and make clear requests. When you make a clear request, there are 3 legitimate responses. He can 1) say yes, an agreement, 2) say not, a disagreement, or he can 3) make a counter offer. If he tries to side-step, you should stand for him to make a choice. That’s an example of ‘setting boundaries and enforcing them.’ And it demonstrate the idea of ‘BEING FOR’ another person.
‘Standing For’ Another Person
If you are in a relationship, there is something you saw, heard, and/or felt about who that person is. When you ‘stand for’ another person, you are standing for the magnificence and best qualities of who you think that person is. People tend to step into the view you hold of them. It’s possible that your positive view was simply mistaken, but what have you got to lose by taking the risk to act as if your positive view is the right one. Sometimes people have simply forgotten, and you will remind them.
Holding to Account
And remember, people can only be held to account for what they’ve agreed to. Don’t assume you have an agreement. When you are not sure, or even when you think you know, take the opportunity to check it out. Quite often people come away from meetings believing they have agreement when the other parties heard something totally different. “Let me see if we are on the same page. Yesterday you agreed to get the report to me by 2pm today. Is that what you said? Please note that the point is not to assign blame here, but to build a relationship that begins to eliminate the miscommunications that often occur. When performed correctly the relationship gets stronger. Whether we are talking about an executive board member or a spouse, the principle works the same. Keep holding to account until there’s no gap between what gets communicated and what actually happens. Relationships of all kinds will benefit.
Use Sincere Apology to clear the slate. Don’t let opportunities pass to clear the slate and build the relationship stronger. Keep speaking into existence the future you want.
Clean the Slate From Emotional Residue
I’ve covered this in blog on relationship, but the power of a SINCERE APOLOGY is that you can turn any breakdown into a stronger relationship. Conflicts and disagreements are going to occur when any two or more people are in communication with each other. Don’t let hard feelings linger. Get the cleaned up in a timely manner. For the person who takes on Sincere Apology as a way to Clean Up the emotional residue in life, it’s like going to nice restaurant. If the wait person does not clean the dishes up and brush the crumbs away, the desert and coffee come, but you can’t find it in the mess on the table. Enjoyment suffers. Clean Up with a Sincere Apology is a habit that is intended to keep the relationship clean and uncluttered and to build the future you actually desire because you use the opportunity to say what you want in that future between you.