During a recent rewatch of The OC, I found myself yelling, “JUST TALK TO THEM ABOUT IT INSTEAD OF MAKING AN ASSUMPTION, OMFG!” a lot. Misunderstanding and miscommunication seem to be the driving forces behind—like—70 percent of the conflicts on the show.
Communication is key, dummies.
Obvs, it’s much easier to dole out this advice to fictional people than to look at where it might be relevant in my own life. Like, hmmmm…how the stress of wedding planning was causing a lot more fights with my fiancé?
While my fiancé and I are pretty similar when we argue (stubborn, listening to respond, needing to get the last word in, etc), there’s one aspect where we are very different. I have anxiety, which makes it hard for me to put a pin in things. I want to hash it out until there’s a resolution. My fiancé, on the other hand, needs time to cool off.
This is all to say—our arguments were usually pretty unproductive and left both of us feeling worse.
So we made the conscious decision to find a better way to communicate.
What is LARA?
LARA is a communication tool that stands for Listen, Affirm, Respond, Add Information.
Here’s a general overview:
Listen with the intent to understand, not respond (no interrupting!). Pay attention to what they mean, not just what they say.
Affirm the speaker’s feelings. This step builds common ground and helps them feel heard. Some examples:
- “What I hear you saying is…”
- “I sense that you feel…”
Use “I” statements to respond honestly to the speaker’s concerns without labeling or attacking.
Ask questions/ add information
If you have any questions for the speaker, this is the time to ask them. Ask open-ended questions, and remember to actively listen when they answer.
My fiancé and I each take a turn, going through the whole thing before switching roles. At the end, we like to say one thing we appreciate about each other (this is not technically part of the method, but it’s a really nice way to wrap up the conversation).
How this method has helped my relationship
Ofc, I can’t speak for my fiancé, but here are a few things I have noticed:
1. It creates an environment where I know I will be heard. My fiancé and I have a tendency to talk over each other, which was frustrating and invalidating for us both.
2. It has helped me recognize the underlying feelings behind our arguments and how those contribute to arguments escalating. For instance, I get very frustrated when I feel misunderstood or not heard, which contributes to my inability to walk away and cool down.
3. I’m getting better at taking a breather when things are escalating. We make plans to do these check-ins, which helps me feel more secure as I know the issue won’t just get brushed under the rug or forgotten.
4. We’ve both become more empathetic. It’s really hard to approach a situation with empathy when you feel you’ve been wronged. Practicing empathy by way of this method has helped me realize that empathy doesn’t mean you agree with the other person or are saying they’re right.
5. It’s brought us closer. Better communication = better vibes = more intimacy (and sex!).
The content provided in this article is provided for information purposes only and is not a substitute for professional advice and consultation, including professional medical advice and consultation; it is provided with the understanding that Poosh, LLC (“Poosh”) is not engaged in the provision or rendering of medical advice or services. You understand and agree that Poosh shall not be liable for any claim, loss, or damage arising out of the use of, or reliance upon any content or information in the article.