Loaded & Vague Words
Have you noticed that when you use certain words or phrases you can get a rise out of your partner? For example, you might find that when you say things like, “You’re being selfish,” or “You’re just like your father,” your partner reacts badly. You might think of these words as packaged words—words and phrases that may mean something specific to you, but which have meanings that are not clear to your partner. It’s often best to unpack those vague words and phrases and get specific. The simplest way to defuse such phrases and words is to translate them into action descriptions or what could be called videotalk: Use words that describe what you could see and hear on a videotape, rather than using more vague or judgmental words. So, instead of saying, “Well, when you were judging me, I got defensive.” You could try saying, “When you pointed your finger at me and said I was immature, I got defensive.” Instead of telling your partner that the problem is what he or she is, it is usually less threatening and more conducive to change to focus on what he or she does that is a problem for you.