Note: While this outline will give you some things to talk about actually reading More Than Two is probably going to be incredibly valuable. I have outlined and asked questions about the things I have found interesting and thought-provoking, but you may find different things more helpful to yourself.
This was made for use by The Denver Nontraditional Relationships Meetup. Feel free to use it for other groups or for your own use as long as you credit Poly Talk. Going through it with a partner or your polycule might be especially helpful!
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Chapter 6: Communication Pitfalls
Foundations of communication
- Understanding other’s needs
This is why us discussing terms & semantics is a good thing.
Have you ever been in a situation where you applied different meanings to the same term and it caused a problem?
Does everyone in your discussion apply the same meaning to:
Likely, these are different for different people.
How can we have a discussion in our relationships about what these terms mean to us to limit miscommunications?
Words attached to baggage.
Ex: Everyone must respect the primary relationship.
Existing commitments come first.
Everything must be fair and equal.
Reasonable, Success, Rights, Healthy
Do you have any agreements or rules with terms like this? How can you clarify what you really mean better?
Most common reason for dishonesty is a lack of emotional vulnerability. Reasons for dishonesty:
- Fear of rejection
- Fear of ridicule
- Fear of being wrong
- Fear of hearing no
- Fear of being found less desirable
- Not wanting to hurt your partner
- Incapable of being honest with self
Dishonesty by concealment often is a way to seeking to control information as a way to control their partner’s behavior.
Lead with hopes rather than fears. What are some times you have struggled with one of these barriers to honesty? Did you overcome them? How?
You are going to be wrong sometimes. Do you allow this or fight it? Can you admit it? When does the refusal to accept that you are wrong cause problems?
How can you make it easier for you partner(s) to talk to you despite these issues?
Passive communication- communication through subtext.
EX: Saying “I want to go out for Thai food.” vs. “Hasn’t it been a long time since we went out to eat?”
Are you more of a direct or indirect communicator? Which one is/are your partner(s)? How has passive communication led to problems in your relationships?
Passive communication can easily turn into manipulation. Passive communicators often see subtext in a direct communicator’s language- even when there isn’t any. Has this been an issue in your relationships?
What can you do to become better at direct communication? How can you encourage partners that are passive communicators to be more direct?
We are likely to interpret other’s motivations as less favorable than our own. We are just reacting to a situation while they are exposing a flaw in their character.
How can you recognize this bias in yourself? Has this played a role in any arguments or judgments you’ve made about people?
When one person’s concern regarding another person doesn’t go addressed with that person, but with another third person.
Where is the line between venting to another person/ seeking validation and triangular communication begin?
Sometimes caused by one partner wanting to control the passage of information to another person.
Triangular communication leads to diffusion of responsibility (so is veto power.)
It is likely that you have been at every part of the triangle at some point. The person seeking a third person to talk to, the person in the middle, and the person who was not talked to directly. In each situation, what could you have done to better direct communication?
When We Don’t Want To Communicate
Communication is most difficult when it is most important. Assumptions, embarrassment, and vulnerability can lead us to not want to communicate.
“If you are afraid to say it, that means you need to say it.”
What is something you’ve been/ were afraid to say? Why? What was the outcome?
How can you be receptive so your partner feels more comfortable saying the hard stuff?
Coercion- when the stakes of saying no are so high that you can’t reasonably say no.
If we think our partners owe us something this can occur. If you think you are owed sex you might think you are just communicating your need for sex when you are really demanding it.
Respect boundaries even when you don’t understand them. They are not the same as rules.
How do you distinguish between boundaries and rules?
Sometimes boundaries can be used to control, in emotional blackmail people may withdraw to punish someone. How do you make sure that your motives for boundaries are healthy?
Active listening can prevent this. It is:
- No leading questions
- Listening to understand, not to respond
- Repeating back what is said for clarification
Be wary of shifting responsibility for one person’s emotional state to the other person. EX: Why would you have sex with someone else when you know how much it hurts me?
Chapter 7: Communication Strategies
99% of us are ‘lousy communicators.’
- Listening to understand, not to respond
- Repeating back what is said in your own words for clarification
- Be direct in what you say
- Without subtext, hidden meaning, or coded language
- Assume directness in what others say
- Don’t look for hidden meaning or buried messages
Nonviolent Communication (NVC)
Put aside assumptions about other’s motivations and look at your own emotional response. Have each person in your discussion group come up with a difficult situation they had trouble communicating through and go through each step together to determine what you would do if practicing NVC. Do not be judgemental about how they handled the situation, only encouraging about figuring out what could be done better from now on or next time.
- Observation- made without judgment or assumption
- Feeling- focus on what you felt (I statements)
- Need- share what you need
- Request- request for communication
Make sure NVC is not used as a tool for control.