I have been thinking a lot lately about three little tools. In fact, they cross my mind nearly every time I help a couple to communicate better with one another. They are to Mirror, Validate, and Empathize. The bottom line to understand about communication is that people want to be heard. That is why we tend to speak louder, harsher, and without cessation when no one is truly listening. No doubt you have experienced this in your relationship at one point or another. Mirroring, validating, and empathizing in a conversation can ensure that your partner feels heard.
To Mirror, you must simply repeat what you have heard your partner say, but in your own words. Don’t repeat it word for word, because no one likes a parrot and it is not sincere.
To Validate, you must acknowledge that what your partner has said is indeed valid for him/her.
To Empathize, you must convey that you understand how your partner feels and that you can relate to it on some level.
Next time you are in a conversation with your significant other and you sense that the volume is getting louder, the words are becoming harsher, and there is hardly a pause to breathe, take a step back and listen. Then, mirror, validate, and empathize. Chances are, the mood will change, the conversation will be more productive, and your relationship will be strengthened.