At the last Commander’s Call I handed out a relationship tool called “Daily Temperature Reading.” The essence of the tool is to create healthier relationships through honest and open dialogue.
One element of the DTR is “Complaints and Recommendations.” The purpose of complaints and recommendations is to help each person be aware of and take responsibility for the small irritations and annoyances that arise every day and share them maturely.
When complaints are unspoken, they unconsciously leak out through a poor attitude or passive-aggressive behavior. When spoken poorly, they immediately drive a wedge in the relationship. This is not about arguing about or solving concerns, but how to hear each other, learn to negotiate and perhaps agree to disagree.
Here is how it works: The person with the complaint takes responsibility for coming up with a possible solution. As my wife said to me this weekend, “I noticed you let the dog roam around the house today when you left. I would prefer you keep her in the utility room unless you are home.” This is much better than, “Why did you let the dog out of the utility room?!”
This is a hard skill to master because I am rewiring my brain to handle complaints differently. But, I can say that after 31 years of marriage that I am no longer afraid of saying the wrong thing and escalating an issue into an argument and I am not as defensive when given a complaint.
By using this skill regularly and keeping our complaints current, our conversations are much better and our marriage is healthier. For a fuller description of the DTR, go to http://www.pairs.com/dtr.php.