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Practice the Skill of "Reflection" to Increase Understanding in Your Relationships



One skill I love to teach the couples I work with is the skill of reflection. Oftentimes in relationships we mind-read, make assumptions about and misunderstand what our partner is saying to us. This can lead to more conflict and cause resentments to form overtime. Reflection is a skill all about checking in with your partner about what each of you is saying and meaning to say to the other. This skill is also a great way to improve your listening skills in conversations and show your partner that you are making an active effort to better understand what it is they are expressing.


The core of reflection is this: repeating back what your partner said to you in your own words. This may feel awkward at first but the more you practice the more natural it will feel as you and your partner's understanding of each other grows.


With the skill of reflection there are a few things we need to keep in mind. The first is that we want to be reflecting the core emotion our partner shared, to the best of our ability. It isn’t as much about the little details as it is reflecting what our partner is feeling and the main reason they feel that way. It is also okay to not get it right when reflecting! It is good if your partner corrects you, this will deepen each of your understanding of each other and the situation.


Some ways to start a reflection could be:

  1. I’m hearing you say…

  2. It sounds like you feel…

  3. You’re saying that…

  4. What it sounds like is…

  5. Correct me if i’m wrong, but you’re saying…


Practicing this skill of reflection with your partner not only improves your understanding and listening skills but can improve your relationship overall. Reflection takes some practice but it is a great skill to utilize when working to improve your communication and relationship.


 

Blog post written by Green Door Therapist Anna Finnegan, LCSW.

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