Illustration for relationship excercise presented by Gill Jackman, a counsellor working in the Chew Valley, North Somerset

Relationship Exercise: Promoting a dialogue

The object of this exercise is to tell one another about your thoughts and feelings, and be heard by one another. If your words become criticisms or opinions or an analysis about the other (if you are not ‘owning’ your words as your own perceptions), you’ve probably gone off track. If person A starts each sentence with the words: “I feel” or “I think” this will help, particularly at the beginning as you’re learning. Person B is trying to reflect back what person A has told them as if they were standing in the shoes of Person A.

1. Choose the length of time you need to talk before you begin. This could be as small an amount of time as two minutes but could go up to 15. I do not recommend you make it longer and I’d start small.

2. Person A speaks for *** minutes while Person B listens and tries to see things as Person A sees them.

3. Person B ‘feeds back’ the gist or a summary of what they have heard Person A say.

4. Person A clarifies whether this feedback is an accurate reflection of what they meant.

5. Person B ‘corrects’ what they have said if they had not covered something or reflected something inaccurately, until Person A is satisfied.

6.. They swap (for the same length of time). Silences are allowed!

©Gill Jackman 2020.