Have you ever felt attacked by your spouse or significant other in a conversation?
Have you felt that they were not seeing something from your end + that they were just looking for ways to knock down your idea, concern or emotion?
If your answer is yes, you’re not alone.
Many of us are included in that camp of “going on the defensive” when our partner begins to ask questions, give feedback or voice their concerns.
Today, we’re exploring an approach that we can take in order to start changing our attitude from “I’m being attacked” to “this is helping us.”
Let’s dive into the conversation!
The Classic Dilemma
There have been many times when Kevin has gotten on Courtney’s nerves + vice versa.
Here’s an example:
Kevin has a great idea for the podcast. He goes on a five-minute explanation as to why his idea is “the future of our business.”
He’s excited as he had spent weeks thinking about the idea + finally got the courage to share vulnerably with Courtney.
At the end of his impassioned pitch, he looks to Courtney — expecting a huge round of applause + admiration for the man — + for her to say “let’s do it!”
However, Courtney asks questions + starts talking about ways that we could improve the idea logistics.
Kevin takes Courtney’s probing response as a way of shooting down his idea altogether + immediately goes into defensive mode, so the conversation goes sideways.
But the conversation didn’t have to go sideways. He’s a shoot-straight-from-the-gut, in-the-moment decision-maker whereas Courtney curates all of the information, processes for a moment + then makes a confident decision. Both approaches are valid, but in the heat of the moment, opposite decision-making personalities can feel like rejection.
Sound familiar perhaps?
Outside of business, another example is having a conversation about something that made one of you upset emotionally.
The upset partner might ramble on with no clear direction + their supportive partner ends up trying to guess at solving the problem — maybe asking “what do you think the underlying cause for this is?” or “could you get out in front of this next time + prevent it from happening again?”
The upset partner maybe then goes into a defensive shell again + shuts down, or decides that their partner is not seeing their problem + not validating their feelings. Maybe all of the above!
The upset partner decides that their partner is trying to “solve” their issue so that they don’t have to deal with it.
We can read a million communication books on how to validate our partners or use tactics to get the outcome that we want to have.
Kevin has read books, listened to podcasts — he’s done everything. Courtney has just the same.
But the only place where all that effort led us to was a self-help spiral of adding tools to a tool belt that we never actually find works for us, as a couple, long-term.
What we found is that we would just sit there in self-help indecision: stuck in a perpetual, vicious cycle of over-thinking our partner is “out to get us” because we were inundated with too many communication tools to know which one to actually put to good use.
And, worse, we were unable (or unwilling) to see the other person as our teammate in the heat of those moments.
Now, we make the simplified choice to do just that.
The Perspective Shift
So a simple outlook that changed all of this for us was to look at communication challenges from this perspective:
My partner is on my side. They want the best for me + they’re willing to do anything to support me.
We carry this perspective every single day into every single conversation.
Courtney’s questions are clarifying questions so that she can help Kevin better. Her feedback is voicing her needs + concerns so we can have a better marriage (both at home + in business).
Kevin’s ideas are bringing us to the next level + making us stronger than before.
So instead of looking for all the ways that we’re attacking each other or not appreciating each other’s contributions, we’ve shifted our focus to all of the ways that we are supporting each other.
We married each other for a reason — we love each other.
We started a family because we wanted to expand the love we have + to have children + build a family together.
We didn’t go into this because we wanted to see the other person fail.
We didn’t start a business so that we can tear each other down + watch all of our hard work go up in a ball of flames.
We did everything we did (+ do everything we do) because we love each other + because we want to see the other succeed.
We continue to stay + do the work + do everything together because we want to see what this partnership can bring.
So, we have committed to looking at any challenging situation from the lens that if a question is asked, a concern is voiced, or just a random topic is brought up during the day, it’s not to hurt the other person or pull them down.
Concerns + suggestions are brought up from a place of building us up so that we can become better as a couple + as individuals.
This mindset applies not only to our marriage, but also to any relationship or conversation that we have outside.
We can look for the opportunity — not the attack — in every conversation.
Become an Inverse Paranoid
A tangible concept that you can apply to your everyday relationships is called “becoming an inverse paranoid”. (Credit: “Success Principles” by Jack Canfield)
The idea is that instead of thinking everyone is out to get you — that everything’s a conspiracy theory to stop you from enjoying your life, partners included — flip the thought around.
Remind yourself that everything that happens to you externally — every conversation you have, every single person you come into contact with — is plotting to help you achieve your goals.
Keep a positive outlook to plot your achievement (not your demise) + you will get to your success.
This shift in perspective was a monumental game changer in our lives + in our marriage + we know for a fact that this can be a huge game changer for you as well when practiced consistently.
Begin to approach every conversation with your spouse as a teammate. You are both in this together + you want the best for each other. Anything that is said or done is to help the other achieve their goals.
We highly suggest everyone implements a daily practice from that inverse paranoid concept by Jack Canfield wherein upon waking up every single day, tell yourself something like the following:
“I believe the world is plotting to do me good today. I can’t wait to see what it is.”
Do this exercise every single morning + carry that mindset with you into every conversation, especially in your marriage or your relationship with your spouse or partner.
We’re confident you’ll watch your marriage + relationships take off for the better after implementing this.
So, we’d love to know: what are your next steps towards seeing your partner’s questions or concerns in a positive light?
Share your thoughts on this with us by commenting below or sending us a direct message on our Instagram @organicfamilyceo!