Chronic Communication Skill: How to keep your cool at home

Clients often talk to me about something their partner does, or they do, that can ruin the day. It can be as simple as a facial expression, like a smile that seems more like a smirk. A complaint that feels like blame. Words that are taken as a criticism, unfairly given. Or not speaking at all.

In other words, hot buttons. And having one of those hot buttons pushed can lead to hurt or angry feelings. Conflict. And stress.

Everybody has a hot button or two. And the challenges of living with a chronic condition can leave those hot buttons ripe for the pushing. But a stressful environment can also have a negative impact on your health. Who needs that?

So, maybe you and your partner are already working on how to recover from those breakdowns in communication that can occur when someone’s button gets pushed. Great!

But here’s an idea: What about promoting a calm, supportive environment at home? One that promotes positive attitude and happiness? In other words, what if those buttons didn’t get pushed in the first place?

Interested? Here how to keep each day moving in a positive direction:

Tips to Support a Healthy Relationship

Set the tone. Want your partner to be more upbeat in the morning? Maybe you can get the ball rolling. Starting with “Good morning. How are you doing?” With a big smile. A few words of encouragement. Add setting a positive tone to your morning agenda.

Try an act of kindness. Everybody appreciates it when their partner goes out of his/her way to do something nice for them. What helps to keep your partner on an even keel? Consider doing something that you know your partner will appreciate, just a simple act of kindness, like making something special for lunch or taking an extra turn a household chore. Go out of your way to show your love.

Use teachable moments to educate your partner. Acknowledge the words or gestures that promote a positive atmosphere in your household, no matter how simple. This is the best way to let your partner know what he/she can do to promote harmony at home. Use magic works like “Thank you” and “That was so nice for you do to.” It’s a whole lot easier, and productive, than lecturing. When you see something positive, say something positive.

Be willing to blink first. Even if you don’t think you should have to. By now, you are most likely all too aware of what can push your partner’s buttons and what pushes yours. So when you see a conflict just around the corner, take a turn in another direction. Or, as the expression goes, “don’t go there.” It might take some self control, but think of all the wear and tear on your emotions you can avoid by not revisiting old territory. Instead of taking the bait, how about something like “How can I help?’’ Or maybe even “I’m sorry.”

Remember “Compassion 101.” Sure, you’re the one who’s living with a chronic condition. But your partner is also affected. And sometimes what feels like unkind or inconsiderate behavior can be an expression of frustration, or fear, or helplessness. Everybody is struggling in their own way. Before you jump to the usual conclusion, assume that everybody is doing the best they can. You, and your partner. Even when it it doesn’t feel that way. Remember, we are all in this together.

And each and every day, say “I love you.” That’s easy enough, right?