Poor relations between two countries can lead to war. Great diplomats have mastered the art of diplomatic communication as a lot is at stake. The goal of diplomacy can be summed up in the following three words: Peace, Prosperity, and Protect. Diplomats look for a win- win solution to bring peace and prosperity, and to protect all involved. However, they are able to compromise when needed. They do not demand their own way or make unilateral decisions. Diplomacy in marriage is a desirable quality. Conversations in marriage should bring peace and prosperity to the marriage and should protect each other from harm.
What skills are needed to be a diplomat and what can couples learn from diplomats and their communication? Diplomats are knowledgeable about diverse subjects such as cyberwars, uses of oceans and outer space, refugees, climate change, economics, trade, trafficking of individuals and drugs, and peace treaties. They share their knowledge with dignitaries and draw out dignitaries’ opinions about these subjects. Diplomats bring gifts to show good will, honor, and cultivate good relationships. The gifts are carefully chosen as it is a reminder of the alliance between the diplomat and the receiver of the gift. Diplomats build relationships in a caring way that enables them to bring up controversial topics at the right times. Entertaining is a way of life for the diplomat as it paves the way for good relations. Great diplomats are attentive and listen to understand. They are attuned to others which makes others feel valued as a high priority. Diplomats are able to communicate insights back to others which communicates understanding. Diplomats are not condescending or demeaning. They know how to approach subjects in a nonthreatening respectful way and are able to discuss sensitive matters without raising their voice.
Communication in marriage takes effort just as foreign diplomacy takes effort. Good communication in marriage begins with a deep intimate friendship that is fostered throughout the relationship. Spouses want to know each other and feel connected. Building the friendship with regular dates sets the tone for good conversation as it communicates that the marriage relationship is a priority. Couples have to be purposeful in fostering emotional intimacy by communicating vulnerable self-disclosures, and responding with understanding, validation and care to their partner. Good communication involves being attuned to your partner and listening to understand by asking questions to clarify.
Conversations between marriage partners living closely together tend to be reactive (reacting to logistics or everyday planning, small talk and addressing challenges) or proactive (being purposeful in getting to know each other better and strengthening the bond between the two spouses). Diplomats certainly engage in problem solving and planning but they are also proactive in sharing their visions and hopes on a variety of topics in addition to drawing out the dignitary’s visions, hopes and dreams. Without being purposeful in carving out time for proactive conversations, reactive conversations can consume a couple’s life together. These proactive conversations are the glue that makes couples feel connected. Dreams, hopes, and fears are shared during these conversations. As humans, we are always changing so these conversations are an ongoing effort to understand your spouse’s inner life. Proactive conversations pave the way for smooth conflict resolution as partners are more willing to understand each other and meet each other’s needs when they feel connected.
Here are some challenges for couples to foster good communication:
1. Carve out uninterrupted time daily for proactive conversations to build the bond and get to know each other’s hopes, dreams, opinions, and fears. Be vulnerable and share your hopes, dreams, opinions, and fears.
2. Go on weekly dates. Enjoy each other and laugh together. Foster good communication by scheduling fun novel leisure activities together.
3. Study your spouse to know your spouse. Cultivate a habit of thoughtfulness. Give gifts periodically that communicate to your spouse that you have an alliance together, a special bond. Gifts communicate that the receiver of the gift is on your mind and that the person is such a priority to you that you’ve taken the time to know what the person would like. Thoughtful gifts might be a love note left in your spouse’s lunch bag, a beautiful flower picked out of your yard to be placed in a vase, your spouse’s favorite item at the grocery store, or a new shirt in your spouse’s favorite color, or a more expensive item that you think your spouse would like.
4. Demonstrate empathy by listening to understand. Ask questions. Clarify. Repeat back to your spouse what you believe he or she is saying.
5 .Give gracious charitable judgments. Have a positive attitude and tone, and avoid being defensive!
6. Be respectful in conversations. Don’t interrupt. Don’t raise your voice. Focused listening allows the partner to feel cared for and important.