“Seek first to understand, before you kill each other … with solutions”

Rezza and I were at the Discovery Weekend (DW) recently. It’s our way of refreshing on the relationship principles we learned from the marriage preparation seminar.

Rezza and Edwin Serving at the Discovery Weekend March 2014
Rezza and Edwin Serving at the Discovery Weekend March 2014

We were asked to do a demonstration called “Confidence and Dialogue” in front of 58 couple-participants of the seminar.

Discussion vs. Dialogue

In DW, through our Chaplain couple (facilitators) Rey and Marivic Magno, I learned that a discussion is of the brain, it is analytic, it is a search for solutions.

What DW espouses is for couples to have a dialogue. Dialogue is of the heart, it is a connection, it is a search for understanding each other’s feelings.

The Dialogue Demo

So there we were, Rezza and I on stage, with a room of 29 couples getting ready for marriage.

Step 1: Air concern. Focus on Feelings.

I started out with the a statement format that goes something like:

“When ____(situation)_____,
I feel ____(feeling)____
because ____(background)____.”

Thus, I shared with Rezza:

“There are times when we are travelling to/from our trainings,
I feel “nasasayangan” with the time we have together
because I would rather we have a conversation instead of you spending time on a mobile game. ;-) “

Step 2: Validate, Clarify

After I bring up my concern, it is important that my partner seeks to *understand* first (not explain).

The way she would understand is to verify:

“What I hear you saying is that …”

For instance, Rezza said something like: “What I hear you saying is that when I play games on my phone, you feel disconnected.”

and she continues to check if she understands how I *feel* and clarify further through questions.

Step 3: Wash, Rinse, Repeat

Rezza would continue clarifying whether she understand the feelings. For instance, if she probed deeper, she would later understand that I wanted to have a conversation because I wanted to have a connection, to have a relationship at that moment. ;-)

The funny thing is, Rezza started to explain her side a bit early into the dialogue. Hehehe. Result: I understood Rezza better even as I was the one who wanted to be understood!

At one point, our chaplain Marivic asked me: “Did you feel Rezza understood you?”
I responded to Marivic promptly: “I felt YOU understood me more!” :D LOL!

Seek first to understand
Seek first to understand. Photo credits: http://jolamble.com

Notes from the field

The dialogue focuses on understanding on the feelings level (which I’m passionate with as a very kinaesthetic person). The objective (in the demo) is not to find a resolution, the objective is to understand the feelings behind the situation.

When there is understanding of the heart, the connection of the couple is strengthened, the partnership is fortified and we can find resolution that considers how each partner truly feels.

It was an interesting experience being on stage and revealing how Rezza and I manage a small issue like mobile games. We still need a lot of practice in having real dialogues. ;-)

How the couples responded

It’s interesting how some of our couple-participants responded.

Some appreciated the tonality of caring and respect. Some observed how we interacted with each other through our body language, sometimes through humor.

One lady thought the process was “trivial” or “tedious” suggesting: “what if we just tell the other person to stop playing her mobile game.”

Another man in his late 40’s suggested: “Maybe Edwin just needs to work on being more interesting.” :D

I had to take a deep breath as we were being examined (“judged” is the amplified word) by our participant-couples. I needed to remind myself that their statements were revealing more about themselves than about Rezza and I.

How they respond is how they think.

Our chaplain couple Rey and Marivic Magno clarified that dialogue is something that needs to be learned. It’s a deliberate process of understanding. It’s not something to be used for day-to-day conversations. That would be freaky! ;-)

Use the dialogue when you have a need to understand or be understood better by your partner.

Here’s a little insight from one of our participants:

"one of the most memorable parts of the program" - RJ at Discovery Weekend
“one of the most memorable parts of the program” – RJ at Discovery Weekend

Thank you Lord for the opportunity to work on our relationships.

May we learn to understand with the heart first.

Question: How do you manage your concerns with your loved ones? 

Ka Edong

p.s. You want some help with your relationship, to help you understand your partner better? Why not try life coaching? You will be amazed with the immediate results you will have! Surely you’re interested, so click here to learn more about coaching. 

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