Timed timeout

Communication is frequently identified as an issue for couples in therapy.

My favorite communication skill is timed timeout.  It seems in couples, one person wants to talk issues out right now and the other person needs time to process.  That person wants to walk away, cool off, think.  The talker perceives that the processor is avoiding dealing with the issue and gets angry. When the processor returns, the talker doesn’t bring it up.  The processor thinks “phew, it’s over”.  Nothing gets resolved.

Here’s how timed timeout works.  When one or both of you realize the conversation is going nowhere good, call a timeout with a specified timeframe for coming back together such as 15 minutes, 30 minutes, an hour, etc.  This allows the processor necessary time to calm down, collect self, and think about what to say.  The talker knows that they will get back to the conversation.  The goal during timeout is to calm down, refocus on the issue, clarify your point and your partner’s point.  Then start over and good luck!

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