How the Talker and the Quiet One can make Changes.

Healthy couples have differences that complement each other. The Talker and the Quiet One are attracted to each other. In courtship, this dynamic works as each enjoys the other – a Positive Interactive Cycle.

Often what attracts us to our partner in the first place may be the very thing that we complain about later. The Talkers says it’s like pulling teeth to find out what the Quiet Ones are thinking and feeling. The Quiet Ones complains that the Talkers talks too much and they cannot get a word in edgewise. The Quiet Ones say they are always being interrupted and they cannot finish a thought. The Talkers complain that the Quiet Ones are withholding; they say so little and take too long to say it.

Communication between couples becomes troubled when the dynamic between the couple shifts into a Negative Interactive Cycle. The Talker talks too much and the Quiet One says too little.

How can a couple change this dynamic? First of all, each needs to be willing to take responsibility for their part in the cycle and let go of their partner’s part of the cycle. The only person you can really change is yourself, however, you may be able to influence your partner. When you change, usually your partner changes in response to your change. If each one is changing in positive ways it is possible to get back to a Positive Interactive Cycle.

Second, couples need to allow for experimentation; they need to risk trying new things. Then, they keep what works and forgive and let go of what does not work.

Changes the Talker can make: Be more passive and less active.

1. The Talker can put a period at the end of a sentence and wait for a response.

2. Be more patient and comfortable with silence. Do not view your partner’s silence as an invitation to talk more.

3. Do not interrupt or talk over your partner. When your partner does talk, try reflecting back to them what they are saying. This encourages your partner to say more because they know you are paying attention to their feelings and their point of view.

4. Say it once (or at the most twice). Repeating the same thing in many different ways because you think your partner does not understand is counter-productive. Trust that your partner understands or that they will ask if they don’t.

5. In a warm matter-of-fact tone let your partner know you are waiting for a response rather than start talking again when your partner has not responded yet. You could try the communication skill: Put the Inside Outside by saying, “I’m tempted to start talking again but I’m going to wait for your response.”.

Changes the Silent One can make: Be more active and less passive.

1. Talk sooner. That is, do not take so long to respond. Your partner tends to view your silence as a non-verbal invitation to talk more. Even if you do not know what to say you can start with words like ‘um’, ‘Let me think for a moment’, ‘I’m not sure what to say yet’.

2. Interrupt the Talker using gestures or words; for example, politely hold up your hand. Many Quiet Ones say they never get a chance to talk. What they need to realize is that the Talker is often talking because they are uncomfortable with silence or they are trying to help the Quiet One talk. Many Talkers welcome the Silent One talking because it is a relief for them to stop talking.

3. Reflective Listen. Reflecting back to your partner their point of view and how they feel about it is a way to let your partner know you have understood. When your partner is repeating the same thing in different ways it does not mean they are being condescending, it usually means they want you to understand. Reflective Listening lets them know you got their point and are engaged with them in the conversation.

4. Create the conditions that help make talking easier for you. Approach your partner to talk and ask him or her to listen for a while without interrupting. Chose a time and place that is comfortable for you. Always waiting for your partner to bring up issues causes problems in the relationship. Use the Communication Skill: After the Fact.

5. Share more about yourself. Let your partner know what makes you happy. If you do, your partner will more likely make those things happen. Let your partner know what troubles you. If you don’t, things will build up and you may blindside your partner with an blow-up over a small incident. If you’re not objecting, your partner may believe that what they are doing is OK. This creates resentment for each of you.

With good will and practice the Talker and the Quiet One can get back to a Positive Interactive Cycle.

With care and concern,

Dr. Bea

Comments are closed.