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Congressional Communication Breakdowns Replicate Troubled Couples
Elayne Savage. Ph.D. -- The Rejection Expert Elayne Savage. Ph.D. -- The Rejection Expert
For Immediate Release:
Dateline: San Francisco, CA
Friday, October 1, 2021


By Elayne Savage, PhD

Canstockphoto32283836                                                                                                           © Can Stock Photo / focalpoint

Lately the the squabbling and dramatic goings-on in Congress remind me of many troubled couples I see in my psychotherapy practice.

My intake information form asks: “Why did you decide to come into therapy now?” and almost always couples answer with the same one or two words: “Communication” or “Communication Problem.”

My first job, of course, is to get some specifics about what this means – “communication” covers a lot of ground.

Mostly couples want to be listened to, heard, and understood.

The kinds of things that are often lacking in these relationships are what appears to be lacking in our present Congress: becoming entrenched in ‘my way or the highway’ thinking, the inability to clearly define what they want and expecting others to read their minds, and not having skills to respectfully negotiate a workable solution.

I describe it this way: If we can’t talk it out, we act it out – sometimes by name-calling or by outbursts, but often by non-actions such as sulking or foot-dragging or saying ‘yes-but’ or by making promises that are not kept, or by shutting out the other person.

Feeling Rejected and Disrespected Through Misunderstandings

Too often they do not know how to clarify meaning and they ‘fill in the blanks” with their own interpretation.

One easy way to check out meaning is:

- This is what I heard you say? ––––––––––––––––

- Is this what you said?

- Is this what you meant?

The gives the other person two opportunities to clarify and avoid any misunderstanding.

These mis-cues and misunderstandings are a breeding ground for taking things personally, hurt feelings, disrespect, anger, feeling rejected, resentment and further breakdown in communication.

Resentment sure takes up a tremendous amount of space in any type of relationship – including Congress.

Communication breakdown too often leads to blaming, dismissive, name-calling behaviors. Needing to make the other person ‘bad and wrong.’ Inability to take responsibility for their words or actions., dismissive behaviors such as diminishing the other person by bullying.

I work with couples toward defining and asking for what they want or need, feeling 'heard' by their partner, respecting rather than feeling threatened by differences of style, putting themselves in the shoes of the other person, giving and receiving respect, and enhancing ways to work as a team. 

Even when they come in with different agendas, I coach them:

- to clearly communicate so each is feeling listened to and heard.

- to use words of yearning instead of complaining.

- to enhance their relationship strengths by helping the hurt, anger, disrespect and resentment to fall away, allowing space for responsiveness, accessibility and connection.

- to fully understand the power of reciprocity in relationships:

Understanding Sequence and Reciprocity

Sequence is identifying what behavior comes before and what behavior follows. And what comes before that? And before that? What behavior comes after? Soon a pattern of interaction begins to emerge.

Related to sequence is reciprocity – the effect of behavior on future behaviors – how one response begets another. In other words, every action is also a reaction, creating a circular rather than linear process of relating.

It means taking a good look at how folks participate in and contribute to the flow of any interaction. In both negative and positive ways.

In other words, what someone thinks you are thinking about them is how they are going to respond to you. 

Let’s suppose one person says something the other person perceives as accusatory. The response is often to protect from the perceived attack. The first reaction may be to withdraw, maybe nursing hurt feelings or giving the other person the silent treatment.

What if this withdrawal is perceived as a snub? What if they say something hurtful in response?

And what happens then? Does the person withdraw even more to protect themselves from more hurt? And does the other person feel even more ignored and slighted? How do they react to this feeling?

At what point does the interaction start to disintegrate?

And on and on it goes. In other words, in this kind of circular interaction, each person's behavior affects and is affected by the other person’s behavior.

Before you know it, there is a reciprocity of behaviors that's rapidly getting out of hand.

Yep, that describes Congress perfectly: Out of Hand.

Until next month, 


Elayne Savage is the author of ground-breaking relationship books published in 9 languages.
Both books are now available on Kindle!



You can use the articles in 'Tips from The Queen of Rejection'® as long as you include an attribution and, whenever possible, a live link to my website. I'd appreciate if you'd notify me where and when the material will appear.

The attribution should include this information: Elayne Savage, PhD is a communication coach, keynote speaker, and trainer, practicing psychotherapist and author of Don't Take It Personally! The Art of Dealing with Rejection and Breathing Room - Creating Space to Be a Couple.

To find out more about my speaking programs, coaching and consultation services visit: //www.QueenofRejection.com or call 510-540-6230 if you or your group can benefit.

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Name: Dr. Elayne Savage
Title: The Queen of Rejection
Group: Relationship Coach, Professional Speaker, Practicing Psychotherapist, Author
Dateline: San Francisco Bay Area, CA United States
Cell Phone: 510-816-6230
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