“When people have trouble listening to each other or hearing each other, for whatever reason, I find that it helps to turn down my energy and trust the other person to respond.”
-paraphrasing a member of the Silk Road Ensemble, Chautauqua Institution, August, 2018
Turning Down the Energy
I went to a lecture earlier this week on the art of listening, featuring members of the Silk Road Ensemble. It was fascinating to hear about different cultural ways to listen…with different types of ‘space’ around a person or sound (the Japanese concept of “ma’) or with your heart (taught by an Indian guru), and more. But when I hear the quote above I knew I had to include it in my marriage tips, for this is EXACTLY my experience in our relationship.
“Turning down the energy” when things start to escalate – even a little –can be hard for anyone, but particularly those with ADHD. But here’s where I think it is so helpful. By thinking of this as ‘turning down the energy’ what you AREN’T doing is ‘giving in.’ What you ARE doing is becoming more effective.
In my observation, the teachers who really have the attention of their classes are those whose voices remain lowered, not the ones who speak loudly to speak over the din. The same concept happens in relationships. This is because the loud voice and high energy actually revs up the other person at the same time as it encourages them to ‘set’ themselves into a position. A calmer, less energetic approach, can help the other person listen better, feel less defensive, and remain flexible and open.
Can you trust your partner to always calm down with you? No, it won’t always happen, but at least you won’t be adding to the fight, not encouraging your partner to take a stubborn, inflexible stance. You can always come back later, with a calm approach, to discuss the issue. You are likely to find your partner in a calmer state of mind.
How might you ‘turn down the energy’? And could you and your partner set a verbal cue to use this idea?
You can find great resources for couples impacted by ADHD at adhdmarriage.com, including free:
- Online treatment overview;
- Downloadable chapters of my books;
- A community forum with other couples facing similar issues;
- A large number of blog posts on various topics;
Is your relationship in trouble? Consider my highly acclaimed couples' course: ADHD Effect In-Depth Couples' Seminar - This 8-session phone seminar has helped many couples thrive in healthier, happier relationships. The Live session starts September 2018 as does the anger course..