Psychoanalysis • Psychotherapy • Counseling

David I. Brandt, LCSW, LLC

Montclair, NJ Area

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Approach, Tone and Attitude™

Posted on September 22, 2013 at 4:53 PM
Approach, Tone and Attitude™

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All too often we take the ones we are closest to the most for granted.  We feel that "they know us" or that they will love us unconditionally, and thus we can say whatever we want to say however we want to say it.  The assumption is usually that they will simply "understand what we mean".

First of all, what I have found from working with couples in couples therapy (and parents and children in family therapy) is that this is exactly NOT true!  We ought never lose sight of, nor forget the value of, mutual respect!  In truth, we probably want to be   particularly  mindful of those to whom we are closest. This doesn't mean we can never let our guard down nor feel 'in the pocket' with a loved one.  It does mean, however, that we should never take them for granted and assume that all is okay - that they will tolerate anything we dish out when we are on automatic.

So, in the end, becoming aware of, and being conscious of, our APPROACH is as much as  85% of the battle at times: so many couples' (or parent-child dyads') issues can be reduced, in the end, to approach patterns/styles.  It is often not so much about WHAT is being said (i.e., the thing being discussed) as much as it is about the TONE and ATTITUDE with which it is being said! 

We really can react in quite (often historically loaded) ways to another's approaches, tones and attitudes - even when we don't really mind what the other is actually saying.  It is so often about HOW something is being said.  There is, more often than not, a diplomatic or reasonable way to put something across!  These efforts may often take practice and more work at first, but I believe that they also lead to better outcomes over time.

If tweaking one's approach does not seem to bear better relationship fruit, then perhaps a stint in couples or family therapy or some other consciousness-raising activity together or individually might prove of some value - at least until both parties can operate more on the same page (the page of showing genuine interest in making these concepts of mutual respect and couples consciousness important)!

Categories: Adages to Live By, Adages to Live By for Therapists, Career, Communication Skills, Couples Issues, Family Issues, Relationship Tools, Stuckness

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