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The 8 Golden Rules for Having a Conversation That Reduces Stress Rather Than Stokes It

By | Mary Grace Garis |

No one’s really good at comforting each other right now.” This is a real sentence I spoke to a friend during our millionth pandemic breakdown, and maybe you’re feeling similarly. With just about everyone navigating their own strain of personal strife brought on by life in lockdown, it’s hard to engage in any conversation that doesn’t produce even more stress. But, if you’re communicating under stress with someone also under duress, there are a few strategies you can use to continue without creating even more stress.

In fact, according to a recent Instagram post from the Gottman Institute, there are eight specific ways to have a stress-reducing discussion. They are: taking turns, not giving advice unless it’s asked for, showing genuine interest, communicating your understanding, taking the other person’s side, expressing a “we against others” attitude, expressing affection, and validating emotions. Essentially, the tips boil down to “be a better listener.”

But easier said than done, right? Below, psychotherapist Jennifer Teplin, LCSW, breaks down how to break down each of these tips, and follow them as the eight gold rules of communicating under stress.

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