A reader wrote:
We had a win this morning. My wife was trying to understand how to buy a gift certificate and pay using a credit card, but debiting our checking account. I thought it was easy and kept trying to tell her the solution. Eventually she said “Don’t worry about it, you’re not understanding what I’m saying,” and the conversation ended.
This left her agitated and frustrated and me feeling bad and confused.
After a few minutes I went back and said “Could we try that again? This time I’ll try to listen and understand what you are saying.” We went through it again but this time I focused on making sure that she knew that I understood what she was describing and asking. At the end she said, “Is that right?” and I said, “That’s right”. Problem solved and we were both happy.
This is a pattern; my wife trying to ask something and me jumping in with the solution. This time I successfully listened and she felt understood.