I want to share one of the most simple and effective communication techniques I use with my clients during Couples Therapy.

I call it Three Word Dialogue.

Here is the technique: for 10 minutes, each person takes a turn speaking to their partner, using up to three words, max. Each person can ask questions, state their thoughts and emotions, or make observations to their partner. And each communication must be shared in up to three words.

That’s the technique.

Speaking in up to three words sounds difficult, but as a psychotherapist who uses this technique a lot, I can confirm: it works amazingly well when both parties make the effort.

Why does Three Word Dialogue work so well?

1. Truth

When we are constrained by three words, we must go deep into ourselves to identify the meaning of what we are trying to say. We must engage with both our emotions and thoughts simultaneously.

Communicating in three words forces us to find our “truth” in its shortest, most essential form. This enables us to express something that makes total sense to both ourselves and our partner.

2. Communication Clarity

When I ask my couples to rate the communication clarity of their three word dialogue, they routinely score it at 80% – 90%. For many, this clarity is mind blowing, as they are used to communicating in significantly longer forms.

3. Mindfulness

Another benefit of this exercise: it helps my clients slow down and focus on their partner in the most mindful way possible. This in-the-moment presence creates greater connection between them.

Application of Technique

Three Word Dialogue can be used for any “couple” – business partners, best friends, parent and child, or any other pair who cares about each other.

I hope you find this helpful.

PS – I want to thank Health Coach Betsy Salkind for introducing this valuable tool to me several years ago.

Tom Skotidas is a Psychotherapist and the director of Intermind. He helps individuals, couples, and families overcome their mental health and relationship challenges. Tom is also a Workplace Psychotherapist and Mental Health Educator.

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