Relationship counseling - Relationship counsellingThe Three P’s Technique: For better communication

This technique was prompted by one of my clients. He had found that the arguments between him and his wife were all about reaction and no listening for meaning or understanding. He called it the Three P’s. Pause, Process and Respond. Ok, that’s two P’s and an R. But for simplicities’ sake and making it memorable let’s stick with the three P’s.

In communication with your partner, when you feel yourself getting heated or feel that you are going to say things you might later regret then you can use the 3P’s technique. Before you read on, do you know the difference between react and respond. Well, think about those two words while you read the rest of this post.

The first P is for Pause: Firstly, you pause, take a moment, recognise what is happening. The second P is for Process: Process the event, what is being said, why it is being said and what is it about. To process effectively you need to consider your own behaviour. If there is a hint of blame in there somewhere then best to do some more processing. Then when, and only when, you think you can respond effectively to your partner, then speak. Pause process and respond.

It works like this: Your partner says something to you that would normally get a rise out of you. Normally you may react to the statement or request for example by either getting defensive or biting back. You may even do the stonewall thing, that’s the John Gottman term for shutting the other person out and going cold on them.

I would imagine that this behaviour yields little return. I mean, imagine you serve an Ace every time in a Tennis match. Yes, it is true that you might feel like a winner the first 2-3 times of acing your partner but that gets pretty old pretty quick. After all you are there to play a game. Relationships and communication are much the same as tennis only the outcome should be that both parties win.  Volley, return, volley return, and volley. Makes for a great game of tennis and back and forth with mutual respect and understanding makes for good communication.

So, when she or he says something you might want to disagree with, take a moment. Pause and think what is being said. Consider if it is directed at you and your character or a statement about your behaviour. Or is it something they always say that has nothing to do with you. Process the statement, request clarification if needed are and then, after careful consideration, respond. And please remember to ask yourself this question: Is your response going to increase or decrease the pressure?  Are you responding in an adult like fashion or is your need to be ‘in the right’ getting the better of you?