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Friday, July 3, 2020

Communication in relationship: Avolio's Rules of Engagement

An area in which I specialize in my counseling practice is couple's counseling. One of the biggest problem areas in couple's relationships is interpersonal communication. Because of that, I thought about all of the areas I have failed in the past and I wrote them to be guides, or guard rails, or warning alarms of typical maladaptive behaviors into which we can, and often do, fall.

In the future, I will expand on each of these, but for now, here are Avolio's Rules of Engagement
  1. Do a “heart check.” Ask, "What is going on inside of me to lead me to feel or react in the way I do?"
  2. Remember, “The person is more important than the problem." (Good PhD, Mark C., Real Talk: Creating Space for Hearts to Change . Deep River Books.)
  3. Remember, none of us is a mind-reader. “When I don't know, I will ask."
  4. Do not hyperbolize. It is almost never, “Never”; it's almost never, “always.” Even if it feels like that. Maybe it is “Rarely,” or “Sometimes,” or even “Often.”
  5. Do not just complain (“express dissatisfaction or annoyance about something”). Discuss (“talk about something with someone”).
  6. It should go without saying, but: no name calling, raging, yelling, cursing. Take a time-out.
  7. Do not blame-shift or make excuses. You are in this together.
  8. Do not defend yourself. Defense often becomes offense. You are not in a battle. The other is not your enemy. The same man who said, “Love your neighbor,” also said, “Love your enemies.”
  9. Admit when you are wrong. And seek forgiveness for your wrongs. More than just, "I'm sorry."
  10. Do not bring up already discussed past hurts or old arguments if they have been addressed and forgiven.
  11. Ask “what” questions rather than “why” questions. “What makes you say that?” Is often less challenging than, “Why did you say that?” Try it.
  12. Do not assume malicious intent.
  13. Do not take advantage of an exposed weakness in the other person. Even in prize-fighting, you cannot hit your opponent when down and there’s "no hitting below the belt.”
  14. “You may be right.” (Try it.)
  15. Communicate with words, not hand signals or “looks.” (See #3.)
  16. Do not be the other person's conscience.  The job is taken.
  17. Do communicate any expectations you have. (See #3!)
  18. Take turns talking. It can be frustrating when one of you monopolizes the conversation.  The goal is to communicate, not to win an argument.
  19. We tend to compare ourselves to other broken people, especially anyone who seems “worse than me.”  You are worse than you think you are, but perhaps you are more loved than you ever dared hope.
  20. Do remember, we are all works in progress.

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