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How to have better conversations in the new year

Psychology expert Blanca Cobb shares advice on how to foster better conversations.

GREENSBORO, N.C. — To have better relationships with other people, you must know what you want in a relationship. Do you want loyalty, kindness, more time together? When you figure it out, make sure that you’re behaving in alignment with what you want.

Focusing on what the other person can do better has the wrong approach to creating better relationships. Remember that there are two people in the relationship; it isn’t one-sided. This means that positive interactions are dependent on everyone involved.

You can’t fix a situation that you don’t understand completely. Think about going to see a physician for a cough. You just can’t tell the physician to make your cough go away. The physician has to do an assessment, examine, and possibly run some tests to see what’s causing your cough. 

The same thing when trying to fix a relationship; you just can’t fix it. You have to assess the relationship. Figure out what’s the problem. How often does it occur? How seems to happen right before the problem? Are there variables that might contribute to the problem? Is there an influence that makes the problem worse? Answers to these questions help you develop a plan.

You can tell them what you’re noticing in your relationship. Be sure to be specific. The more specific you are, the better they’ll understand what you’re saying. You can say something like, “Hey, mom. I’ve noticed a couple of things when we talk that I want to get your take on. I’ve noticed X, Y, Z., And I feel that these things are doing X, Y, Z to our chats. What’s your take on this?” You want their take to get them involved in the process. When you get their opinion or perspective, it feels like a partnership.

In a conversation, you want to focus on the solution, not a fault. When you focus on the solution, it’ll be easy to move through the problem. A solution should be a win-win for both of you. And defenses tend to be lower. Focus on the positive and any movement in the positive direction.

You want to avoid blame, impatience, fault. Realize that it can take time to make changes. Avoid coming across as blameless. Even if you think that it’s their fault, realize that it takes two to tango. This means that you might be doing something to contribute to the problem.

Share your thoughts on my Facebook page: Blanca Cobb – Body Language Expert. Write a message on my timeline, and I’ll get back to you. While you’re on my page, I’d appreciate it if you give my page a “like.”