Keep the conversation between them

Here’s a common scenario.  You’re coaching a couple through a conversation.  At one point, you make a comment, say, to the bride-to-be, ask her a question.  Naturally, she responds to you directly.  Now the conversation is between you and her, instead of being between the partners.  That’s okay for a little while, if it helps to bring something to light, such as clarifying a feeling that the person is having trouble expressing clearly.

As soon as possible, however, you will need to redirect the conversation back between the two of them.  Jane may be looking at you as she says, “I just get really frustrated when Dick clams up and won’t talk to me.”  You can respond matter-of-factly, “Okay, why don’t you tell him that?” while gesturing toward Dick.

Watch what she does next.  She may turn to look at Dick, but keep talking to you about him, in the third person: “When he does that…”  If so, again, redirect her in a business-like manner: “You’re looking at him; that’s good.  But you’re still talking to me.  I want you to talk to him.”  Then break eye contact if need be: look at Dick yourself, or look away.

Your goal is to help them learn to have good conversations with each other.  You may need to set the stage, or even jump in from time to time as things veer in unhelpful directions.  But as much as possible, keep the conversation between them, and coach from the sidelines.

–Cameron

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