Communication Skills in Relationships

Usually, as i stated before, my ‘aha’ moments come from when i disagree with something that someone has written. i get this feeling of disagreement, but then i have to look at myself and my beliefs to get to the point of the feelings. Well, this time, i read this and went, “oh, that’s what’s going on!”.

Here is the writing that started my thinking on this topic……. (more of my thoughts follow the writing from the book that I share below)

Love in Abundance: A counselor’s Advice on Open Relationships
By Kathy Labriola

According to Kathy…..

“usually an individual is trying to achieve one of these five goals through a particular communication:

1) To make a connection with your partner, to create closeness and intimacy:
a. “I’m happy to see you”, “How was your day today?”
2) To tell a story or give a partner information.
a. “My mom called and she is going to come by tomorrow”, “I ran into my friend Jan and she is pregnant”
3) To ask for support or comfort
a. “I had a headache today and it was rough getting through work”, “I feel sad because you snapped at me today and I’d really like to know that things are ok between us.”
4) To solve a problem together.
a. “We got a letter from the IRS today and I need your help to figure out where I miscalculated”, “You mother wants us to come by for Thanksgiving and I don’t want to go and don’t know how to get out of it”
5) To make a decision together.
a. “What color should we paint the kitchen”

It can be extremely useful to think about what the purpose of your communication is before starting the conversation with your partner and communicate that goal to your partner. For instance, if you are just giving information or relating a story because you want to connect, they are much more likely to cooperate with that goal and not derail you by trying to solve a problem or make a decision, and you are both likely to be more satisfied with the conversation.

Because we are so influenced by our gender training and socialization, men and women often have different goals for communication. Women, who are strongly socialized to value relationships and connection, are more likely to communicate to achieve the first three goals: create intimacy or feel connected, tell a story, or ask for support or comfort. Men, trained to analyze, to compete, and to “fix things”, are more likely to see most communication as an attempt to solve problems or come to a decision. It is dangerous to make gross generalizations based on gender, as of course not all women and all men communicate in these stereotypical ways. However, a significant percentage of women do tend to be focused on communication goals, and men tend to focus on technical and practical goals. “

….so, example given in book ….

“For instance, the woman in a couple may be talking about an unpleasant interaction with her boss at work that day, as a way of asking for nurturing and support from her partner. Instead, he interprets it as a problem to be solved, and makes numerous suggestions on how she could have handled the situation with her boss differently in order to create a more positive outcome. She feels invalidated, criticized, and defensive, and he is baffled and hurt because his sensible advice and attempts to help are being rejected.

Conversely, a man may talk about feeling dissatisfied with his job as a way of getting input from his partner about whether to stay at this job as a way of getting input from his partner about whether to stay at this job or look for another job. He wants help in weighing the various factors in order to make a decision, but she things he just wants to vent and get support, so she praises him for his hard work and skills and tells him how much she loves him, and asks him to share his feelings about his work. He is frustrated because she is derailing him from his focus on decision-making. She feels hurt because he doesn’t appreciate her support. “


Master and i have been having conversations lately that fall into these categories and it’s helping me see what is going on . Usually, we are really good with stating up front whether this is something we just need to talk about, or if we are looking for advice. Recently, we had a conversation in the car and i went into fix-it mode. He stopped me and said that he was only sharing, there was nothing to fix.

It’s funny, because at first i just listened and had nothing to say, and then talked myself into offering advice because i had nothing else to say and figured that’s the type of response he’d want from me, after all, as a slave isn’t it my job to make life easier for my Master? As His wife and friend, shouldn't i try to help? That’s what i thought I was doing, helping Him through a process. He wasn't happy about it. I didn’t follow my intuition on that one. Damn.

We’ve also had conversations recently where I’ve been looking for advice and he’s just listened, thinking that’s what I needed. I like it when he tries to help me. To me, it shows my Master cares. I also like it when I’m just venting and remember to say up front that I’m just sharing because I need to hear myself think.

That’s the trick though, to know what we want before communicating so that we get what we need from the other party. Like most things though, it’s easier said than done though.

After 15 years of being with Master Dan, I'm still learning how to communicate. As we learn about each other, and change over time, it's a continuous learning process. And now that I'm dating someone else (or maybe two), and have another slave in the family....I'm learning how to communicate with others of different styles.....all this stuff that I'm reading can come in handy....