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Intentional Dialogue

A structured way for partners to feel heard and understood from the breakthrough book “Getting the Love You Want” by Harville Henrix.

Use this when communication is difficult or use it regularly to improve intimacy and understanding. It may seem contrived or false at first but remember, if you want your conversations to be more meaningful and less defensive, you have to change what you do intentionally. Dialogue takes time and effort to practice regularly; you may need an Imago therapist or Imago couples workshop at first. Many people have found that when they persist, it transforms their relationships.

Intentional Dialogue Process
First decide who is going to be the Listener/Receiver and who is the Talker/Sender; follow the process below. You may need thinking time before reversing roles.

Both roles are difficult: Sender’s responsibilities – Talk only about your own experience and feelings, not about your partner. Use I language, not We Language or You Language. Receiver’s responsibilities – DON’T INTERRUPT with words, sounds or expressions. Only listen curiously, attentively – Even if s/he is absolutely “wrong“.

“I’d like to dialogue. Are you/when are you available?”

Sender. “When ..   I felt ..
My perception of you was ..
It seemed to me that .. and I felt ..
I made up that you ..” (were angry, don’t love me, want to provoke me ..)

Mirroring. Approximately every 90 seconds
Receiver. “What I hear you saying is .. you felt ..
Did I get you?
Is there more about that?”

Being Mirrored
Sender. “Yes you’ve got me” or “Yes you’ve got that and I also ..” (Not – “You’re wrong, You’re not listening.” etc)

Send and mirror until the sender has finished.

List bullet points of everything that has been said.
Then “Did I get it all?”

Receiver. “You make sense to me that you (got angry, felt hurt, gave up) .. given that ..” (You say I remind you of your father, You thought I was cross, You felt confused, etc)

Receiver. “I imagine you might have felt …” See if you can guess some feeling words s/he did not use. (feelings are single words)
Any other feelings?

1. Stay in the process.
2.  Stay in the process!
3. If you get out of process into general discussion, get back to dialogue by Receiver mirroring.

You might also like:
Stopping Arguments,
Important Conversations,
The brain and Relationship,

With thanks to Getting the Love You Want by H Hendrix,
Mirroring by D Lipthrot,
Creative Listening by R Pinney,

The Imperative of Ethical Justification in Psychotherapy..” B Grant

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