Saturday, February 16, 2013

Observing the "Plain English" Rule

"You should have known that would upset me."  
"You don't really love me anymore. I can just tell."
"You've lived with me long enough to know that..."  
"If you really loved me, you would have done that without my having to tell you."

Assumptions, assumptions.

We all make them, based on the irrational belief that if our spouse, friends or loved ones remotely cared about us, they would know our every wish, understand our every intent and respond to our every need whether we've actually stated them or not.

Not that we shouldn't try to be as sensitive as we can to unspoken cues we get from others, but relationships do best when we don't take too many things like that for granted. After all, the reason we have the God-given the ability to communicate is so others know things about us they would otherwise never know, and so have the opportunity to respond accordingly.

Many couples I've worked with report having their relationship improve significantly through adopting what I've called the "Plain English" rule (or the "Claro Espanol" rule if you're Spanish!).

It works like this:

I will not hold another responsible to respond to my need without my having made a polite and clearly stated request to that effect.

Nor will I accept either blame or responsibility for being unable to read another person's wishes, positions or intentions without their having stated them clearly.

A simple rule like that can eliminate a lot of misunderstandings and resentments.
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