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  10. What is Good Communication?

Braided Dialog Worksheet

Conversations flow best when they are braided. That is, when both people weave together their own thoughts and their spouse’s. Yes . . . And . . . is a great structure for doing this. Use “yes” to respond to what you like about what your spouse said. “And” then ties in your different ideas or information.

Conversations get heated when instead the structure becomes oppositional, with each person batting away what the other has said.

Sometimes couples slip into Parallel mode. Like two trains on parallel tracks, they just never meet. This dialog style robs the experience of talking together of any connection or intimacy.

Read each conversation. What mode of dialog does it illustrate?

  • Tony: I’d like to go the baseball game this weekend.
  • Tina: Do you know where my sneakers are?
  • Tony: Yah, there’s nothing like hanging out at the stadium on a warm day, with a cold beer.
  • Tina: Man, I can’t go out for a jog without my sneakers!

  • Tony: I’d like to go the baseball game this weekend.
  • Tina: We haven’t gone to a game in a while, that might be fun. By the way, do you know where my sneakers are?
  • Tony: Umm, I actually haven’t seen them in a while. . . maybe they got left in the car? Boy Tina, I just keep thinking how there’s nothing like hanging out at the stadium on a warm day, with a cold beer.
  • Tina: Yah, I really like watching the sun-set from the bleachers too. And, at the same time, I’m pretty focused right now on wanting to just get a quick jog in.

  • Tony: I’d like to go the baseball game this weekend.
  • Tina: The baseball game? We can’t afford that! But, do you know where my sneakers are?
  • Tony: Well, if you stopped losing your shoes and buying new ones, that’d save some serious cash. Anyway, you’re just wrong, the bleacher seats are really cheap.
  • Tina: Give me a break. You loose your phone far more than I loose my sneakers!

Now you try:

We’ll give the first lines of some conversation. Your job is to finish it braided (yay, good!), parallel (not so satisfying) and oppositional (yuck!). Writing a few conversations in each style will help you to tune your ear so you’ll notice next time you slip out of braided mode.

Oppositional

  • Samantha: I’m thinking about signing James up for drum lessons.
  • Sal: No way, drums are too loud. Anyway, I’m planning on skiing more this year.

Parallel

  • Samantha: I’m thinking about signing James up for drum lessons.
  • Sal: I’m thinking that this year I want to do more skiing.

Braided

  • Samantha: I’m thinking about signing James up for drum lessons.
  • Sal: I like that idea, drums might be a good instrument for a kid who can’t keep a tune to save his life. And, I’ve wanted to add skiing more back into my routine, maybe James would be interested in that too?

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