Relationship Fitness

S14: Communication Skills E7: Keep It Safe

In “Relationship Workout for Men,” Season 14 Episode 7 titled “Keep It Safe,” Vince discusses Communication Skill #6: Creating a safe space for honesty in conversations. He explains how hostile reactions or withdrawal in response to difficult truths can shut down open dialogue and trigger negative emotions. Vince emphasizes the importance of non-judgmental listening, maintaining a cooperative intention, and being mindful of non-verbal cues to ensure both partners feel secure enough to share their true thoughts and feelings. Through this episode, Vince offers practical advice, like setting a peaceful environment or even recording conversations, to make difficult discussions feel safe, aiming to strengthen the foundation of trust and openness in the relationship.

Welcome to Relationship Workout for Men, a podcast dedicated to helping men be intentional in choosing a better partner, and being a better partner for the person they choose.

Season 14 Episode 7: Keep It Safe 

In this episode, we discuss Relationship Workout Communication Skill #6: Keep It Safe to Tell the Truth

A quick way to shut down truth telling is for the person on the receiving end to respond with a hostile fight or shutdown flight. 

Here, one person is trying to be completely honest by talking about a subject that for whatever reason may be difficult to share. Then, in response, the partner either goes on the aggressive attack or passive retreat because that person doesn’t like what he or she is hearing.

Clearly, the truth can not only hurt, but can also push all sorts of hot buttons, triggering a person and setting off various forms of weak anger responses. Once this happens, then all sorts of destructive behavior can occur.

Therefore, this Communication Skill #6 is about keeping it safe for both people to be completely honest. Even if you don’t like what you’re hearing, simply let the other person talk, as you:

1.     Don’t take what’s being said personally.

2.     Set and maintain the cooperative intention.

3.     Monitor your non-verbal cues.

4.     Observe if either of you is getting triggered and not staying in the present moment.

Remember, you both care about each other. A way to demonstrate you care is to make sure the other person feels completely safe to share his or her point of view. 

At a minimum, you can feel grateful that you’re hearing the truth, versus being lied to. The relationship will be much better off if both people can get the truth on the table. Then you can start to figure out where to go from there.

This can be easier said than done, especially when the issue holds a lot of emotional punch. That said, here are three practical ways to help keep the conversation feeling safe:

One, set a peaceful and loving environment from which to have the talk. Put on some soft music, pour some wine, even have sex on the couch prior to talking. The point is to do whatever it takes to take the edge off any pent-up anxiety. Sometimes, we can become so anxious thinking about the potentially difficult conversation that when we finally do have it, the words blurt out like an unleashed, ferocious tidal wave. 

Two, record the conversation. Consider recording the conversation with video. This way, you can each see how you’re coming across to the other person, both in words and actions. Also knowing the conversation is being recorded can help some people be on best behavior during the discussion.

Three, don’t engage if it doesn’t feel safe. If the other person is triggered and it doesn’t feel safe to talk, then don’t engage in the conversation. If all the other person wants to do is verbally attack you, for example, then don’t let yourself get provoked into fighting back. Wait until you both can have the conversation from a loving, or at least constructive, place.

Better yet, come up with your own unique way of smoothing the waters prior to talking. Make the difficult conversations not only feel safe, but also feel fun and constructive.

So with that, we wrap up Relationship Workout Communication Skill #6: Keep It Safe.

In the next episode, we explore Relationship Workout Communication Skill #7: Know What to Talk About.

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