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!
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.
- 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.