Good communication is often considered to be a hallmark of a good relationship. But sometimes couples run into difficulties talking to each other.
Being able to communicate well is a lot like dancing a tango. A tango is an intricate, structured dance that takes practice to perfect, but after time looks effortless.
This communication skills module will have you slow down your communication so you can really focus on communicating directly and listening well.
Like learning how to dance, learning effective communication can take work. You will take turns being the speaker and the listener, and then switch.
T: Tell what happened directly and briefly
This is the time to tell your partner about your perspective. Be brief and to the point, like a news reporter.
A: Affected me
At this point, share how what happened affected you. Try to use a feeling word (hurt, mad, scared, etc.)
N: Nurturing statement
Tell your partner something you appreciate or value about them.
G: Got it?
Reflect back what you heard you partner saying. You don’t have to get it word-for-word, but do try to get the main points of what happened, how it affected them, and the nurturing statement.
O: Observe effects
At this time, both of you should take a step back to see how the conversation is effecting you emotionally. If either of you feel you are becoming too emotional to talk right now, take a time out and come back to the conversation at a later time.
If you both feel ok to keep talking, then keep TANGOing. At this point, speaker and listener will switch so that the other person can share their perspective.
Keep taking turns being speaker and listener until you feel that you have talked through the issue and understand each other’s perspectives.
When doing this module you are going to pick a topic about which you and your partner disagree on, but will not turn into an emotional conversation, in order to practice the TANGO. Here are some tips:
1. Pick something small: To start with, pick a small disagreement.
2. Keep it brief. You will have several turns to communicate your perspective to your partner, don’t worry about getting everything out on the first turn.
3. Listen. While your partner is talking, really listen to what they are saying. This will go best if you stop yourself from thinking about what you would like to say next.
4. Be valuing. It may seem odd to add a valuing statement in the middle of a serious conversation, but doing so will help both of you remember how much you love and care for each other. If you’d like further assistance with the nurturing and valuing portion of the TANGO exercise you can click below for a worksheet on nurturing statements.