Some arguments make us feel like we’re trapped in the same conversation again and again. We may try the discussion at different times, in different places, with different words, but essentially it feels like we’re stuck in a hamster wheel going around and around with each other. Sound familiar? This is a situation many couples experience, whether they are divorcing or working to stay together. So how do you fix it? How do you move forward when it feels like you’re stuck?
The answer may be easier than you’d expect – try something else. If what you’re doing isn’t working, it’s time to switch it up. Think of it this way: if you keep doing what you’ve been doing, and what you’ve been doing hasn’t been working, why are you expecting to get a different result? One trick you can try next time you feel stuck is to practice nonverbal communication.
Have you ever sat across from your partner and been able to communicate with each other without exchanging a single word? That’s what nonverbal communication is all about. Nonverbal communication is communication that takes place without exchanging words. It’s communicating with your body – your gestures, your facial expressions, your posture, your eyes. And, believe it or not, a big part of communication takes place with these nonverbal signs. So next time you are in a disagreement take note of two things:
- How is your partner’s body language affecting you?
- How is your body language affecting your partner?
For example, did your partner have his/her arms crossed during the conversation? If so, how did that make you feel? How did it make you respond? Once you have taken note of how you are both influenced by each other’s body language, try adjusting your body language and seeing if it makes a difference. For example, if you’ve noticed that you tend to look away when your partner is communicating passionately about something, try maintaining eye contact and see if it makes a difference. Test out different nonverbal cues – gently touching your partner’s elbow or arm, easing your eyebrows, softening your shoulders, nodding while your partner is talking. You’ll be amazed at the positive impact of some of these easy tricks. Developing the ability to use nonverbal communication may be the key to help you bridge the gap with your partner and overcome challenging disagreements.