June 23, 2024


The Finance Effect

Strategies For Communicating Effectively With Your Partner (Part 1)

The XYZ statement has been used in both personal and business relationships as an effective way to introduce a potentially sensitive topic for discussion. It works like this: you state the topic or scenario (X), follow it with the context in which the scenario takes place (Y), then finish with how this makes you feel (Z). Let’s look at a few examples:

Here’s an ineffective way to bring up an issue: “How come you never help with the dishes? We both work all day, you know!”

Here’s the XYZ statement way to introduce the same issue: “When you don’t help me with the dishes (X) after we’ve both worked all day (Y), I feel frustrated and unappreciated (Z).”

Here’s another set of examples:

Ineffective: “You bought a new flat screen TV without consulting me? Don’t you realize we have more important bills to pay?”

XYZ: “When you make a large purchase like that (X) without asking for my input first (Y), I feel frustrated and disrespected (Z).” Why does this communication strategy work?

It’s effective because, although you are identifying a behavior or action by your partner (X) in a specific context (Y), the Z part is about your reaction to the situation. You are responsible and accountable for your own reactions and feelings — your partner doesn’t make you feel anything. Accepting and communicating your responsibility in this equation helps reduce defensive reactions from your partner, and an escalation into an argument. One word of caution: be careful to use this method only to describe a behavior or action, not a perceived personality trait.

For example: Stay away from saying, “When you come home and are a slob…” When you mean to say, “When you come home and toss your jacket on the sofa…” Using a term like “slob” does not lead to effective dialogue.

Finally, what’s wonderful about the XYZ statement technique is that it can be used for positive situations and feedback too, which can lead to greater closeness between you and your partner.

For example: “When you asked for my opinion about getting a new TV (X), even though I know your heart was set on buying one right away (Y), I felt appreciated and loved (Z).” Try practicing the XYZ statement strategy with your partner. I truly believe you both will find this a more rewarding way to discuss and resolve any issues you encounter in your day to day life.

Stay tuned for Part 2 coming up!