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How to Build Rapport with Your Spouse
Do you want to have a good relationship with your spouse? Are you at a loss for things to do to increase communication and collaboration?
Recently, Christian Godefroy published an article called “The Dancing Cow” in my newsletter. After reading this article, I immediately thought about how the principle works for married couples.
Here is the story:
Michal and Kental started arguing about who wrote the best songs.
“My music is good,” Michal said. “My songs bring tears to the eyes of all women.”
“No, my music is fine,” Kental disagreed. “My numbers are more interesting than anything! Your music would not move a cow, my poor Michal.”
“And what do you think? That your goals will make you dance?”
The conflict was at its peak when a farmer was passing by his cow on his way home from the field. The two musicians saw an opportunity to test their ideas.
“Hello there,” he said. “Would you mind if we play with your cow?”
“Well, if it makes you happy, why not?
Michal warmed up his hands, prepared a balalaika (a Russian stringed instrument) and played the happiest song a cow had ever heard. But without
because – the animal ruminated without moving the ear.
Frustrated, Mikala handed the weapon to her friend, who played it safe with the same result – she did nothing to the bull.
“It’s a lost cause,” Michal cried. “Your cow has no ear to sing.”
“Well, I don’t know about that,” the peasant replied. “If you lend me your weapon for a while, I can call him something.”
Curious, Michal and Kental gave balalaikas. The farmer tried to imitate the chirping of flies and the lowing of cows. The cow raised its ears, began to whip its tail from side to side, and approached the farmer as if it could hear the song well.
The main point of the story according to Godefrey is that “if you have a problem communicating with people, maybe, like Michal and Kental, you are not playing music that they hear.” This is profound wisdom!
In other words, you need to start where the other person is, using that person’s process. You cannot start where you are if the other person is not in the same place and does not have the same background and experience. First, you need to enter the other person’s world and start with what he (or she) knows best to get their attention.
In this case, maybe eventually the cow would learn to listen to other songs in addition to the words that the farmer used to sing. But at first, the cow did not show any reaction until the farmer sang a sound that the cow knew very well—the buzzing of flies and the lowing of young cows.
So the first thing that caused the cow to start listening and taking action was to start making sounds that the cow knew well. The cow could hear the sound and responded with interest and movement.
How do you think this works for you to have a good relationship with your spouse? Here’s everything you need to remember to make the most of the story of the dancing cow: To start communicating effectively with your partner, start in his world (or) first – enter his world and start where he is right now.
Here are some ideas:
1. Temporarily reduce your needs and wants from your partner. Start a conversation where you can ask your partner about his day, work, and activities, showing interest and compassion.
For example, you could say, “It must be frustrating to have a boss who changes his mind so much” or “You must have been disappointed when it rained and you couldn’t go for your usual run after work today.” See if he can open up and talk about his frustrations, disappointments, and dreams.
2. Try to understand your husband or wife’s opinion on things that happen in his country. If they have different opinions, try to understand why they are different. Show that you are part of the discussion and you need to understand his point of view so that you can explain it to others and defend it.
If they like different music than you do, for example, feel free to learn more about why they enjoy the music they like. Look for commonalities between your interests and his that you can build on.
Even if you don’t change your mind about your likes and dislikes, your partner may appreciate the fact that you were motivated enough to want to understand his world better.
3. Try to show that you care about your spouse and that you appreciate him or her. Many couples take their partner for granted in many ways and stop appreciating and saying “Thank you.”
Go out of your way to see the big and small things your partner does that you appreciate. Say “Thank you” or buy a special card and express your feelings in writing. A heartfelt thank you can strengthen relationships.
4. When you are talking to your husband or wife, try to match your breathing and speech with his. It is difficult to have a relationship when your spouse is quiet and relaxed at the time and you are angry and frustrated.
Without being obvious and seeming like you are imitating your partner, gradually change your breathing rate to be more similar to that of your partner. Match the volume of your speech to his and try to match his energy in the moment.
You can also try sitting or standing where your spouse is, without showing that you are imitating their behavior. In addition, you can match the shape of your face and hands with his.
Many good communicators do these things unconsciously because they help build rapport and provide a good starting point for effective communication. The key to doing this well is to start from where your spouse is at that moment in terms of energy levels and emotions.
5. Gradually encourage your partner to expand his world. For example, after listening to your spouse explain what happened at work, if they don’t ask you about your day, summarize what happened in two or three short sentences before ending the conversation.
If your spouse watches television every evening, ask him or her to choose five minutes when the TV can be turned off and you can “take a break.” Start small and build up to a long time.
Offer to give your partner a foot, shoulder, or back massage. Immerse yourself in the experience as you relieve your partner’s worries of the day and your healing. Tell your partner how much you enjoy doing this for him (or her) and see if they want to reciprocate then or later.
You will be much better at building a relationship if your partner feels that you really like what is happening to him (or her), that you appreciate him, that you care about him, that you love him, and that you love him. I want to talk to him.
If what you’re doing isn’t working, remember the story of the dancing cow and change the “music” you’re playing. Instead of trying to start where you want things to be, start in your partner’s conversation and slowly work your way to where you want to go.
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