Chris WrightChris Wright is a Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist. He sees clients in the Washington, D.C. area and has telephone clients from all over the world. He also has over 35 years of experience as a trainer and workshop leader in human and organizational development across the U.S. and Canada. Chris was founder and director of the Human Relations Institute in Houston, Texas. He was also the Director of PAIRS International -- training psychologists, psychiatrists and therapists in couple’s skills programs. As an innovator in the field, he has developed a unique blend of tools that increase the effectiveness in relationships -- for couples and in the workplace. He has Masters Degrees from the University of Arizona and Antioch University in Los Angeles.
Host: What is the range of skills and tools for a safely resolving tensions and issues?
Chris Wright: There s a whole range of skills and tools that we teach that allow people to work through tensions and issues together safely, harmoniously, this is important to learn. Remember in this relationship, in this orientation, a committed relationship is the place to become whole. This is where we grow; this is where we heal together. When you fall in love with someone, you are opening up your heart not only to your love, but you are also exposing some of your insecurities, some of your unresolved issues, some of your unresolved needs that you have your frustrations. So from time to time, those are going to naturally get triggered in your relationship and they release all full lot of tension when they do.
So having some frameworks, some tools to work through those issues becomes really important. So it s not a destructive phenomenon, but actually something that you do indeed become whole, you do become, you do grow more as a result. So up to this point we have looked at seven basic principles for working through conflict together consciously. It s nice to have those to be able to navigate, but what happens is as soon as we get triggered, our whole consciousness seems to contract and we seem to forget, what should I say, how can I say this in an honoring way, how can I respond after what you just said in a way that creates safety for working through what is coming up together.
We even forget to even think about those things, we seem to fall back on some primitive mechanisms inside. So that is where tools come in, that where we need to learn specific tools that automatically, throw you right in the right direction, that lead the interaction towards a harmonious, more vulnerable, more heart felt sharing together as you work through the differences to resolution. So let s go back to our road map, our road map in this relationship is remember, we have the positive side of the road map and then we have the tension side of the road map. So we are going to focus now on the tension side. As you see on the road map, you are going to see the range of tension from light tension on one end, moving all the way up to medium tension, things that make you a little bit more upset, all the way up to where you actually become emotional.
Where you are really upset, you are angry, you are hurt or you are shutting down from the person. In each of those columns, there is a range of skills, a range of specific tools that you can learn and how to respond to that level of tension. So whatever level of tension you experience in that moment, you know immediately which column to go to, which tools that you would immediately go to that would make this a safe framework for working through it.
In the way we teach these tools, it s like there is each category, each column has about ten facets, ten elements associated with the interaction that you would want to become skillful in. Maybe it s like learning tennis. In tennis there is different facets of the game that you need to develop some skills, you have when you start up and you serve the ball, some skills there, you have your forehand skills, you have your backhand, a whole different set of skills, you have skills that when you come up on the net and you have skills for backing up maybe with lobs, how to respond to lobs.
So same thing with each of these categories, each of these columns, there is a range of skills, facets that show up that you would want to develop tools, have tools that you could use in those areas. So lot of the elements, a lot of the facets, we actually teach sentence stands, simple short sentence stands that leads you towards, when you say that they take the interaction automatically to a healthier, cleaner, more vulnerable place. For example, when you are triggered, you could say That triggers in me a deep need for and then fill it in according to what is coming up or the tension is about me because it brings up, what I struggle with around or another sentence stand would be maybe I am sensitive to this, because -- merely focus the awareness onto what this is really about in a way that is much more vulnerable.
So each of the elements has usually some sentence stands that you can easily memorize, easily make part of your repertoire, your responses, they become natural to. So when under tension, you know how to share, you know how to respond in ways that tend to move it forward, is rarely picked up, so you just have it right at the tip of your tongue, how to respond. So we are going to briefly go over these range of skills, give you sense of what the range of tools are.