Here’s a little tiny deck of cards that can be printed at A4 or A5, and cut out, and carried. And used when conflict happens.
I’ve "procedurised" this from the premise of Hal and Sidra Stone’s amazing book, PARTNERING.
They postulate that at any given time, in any pair of people, each person is in a particular role… Adult, Parent, Child. When I’m in child mode, chances are I’m activating parent mode in my partner. If I’m in helpless, terrified child mode, my partner’s parent mode would be a deeply personal reaction/response to my mode. So, if my partner had a dominating, hate-filled father, the parent they become might become enraged by the snivelling little weakling they’re observing as their way of seeing my mode.
If I’m being a funny, conflict-avoidant comedian child, my partner’s parent mode might be to soften, and get all mushy and gushy.
These pairings are totally individual, and highly contextual, and depend entirely on the relationship dynamics, the habits people have fallen into, the way they grew up, what happened at work on a particular day, and zillions of other factors.
The idea behind the cards I’ve created is that they provide a moment of self-reflection in both parties when a crisis occurs. This pause can be used to re-establish the healthy adult-to-adult partnering mode.
My idea for using them would be for both parties to carry a deck of these six cards.
The three yellow cards represent ME, the inner me I believe is currently inhabiting my body and soul. The three INNER ME cards are: Little Me, Adult Me, and Parent Me.
The three blue cards represent YOU. Not the actual you. Not the you I’d LIKE you to be. But the you my current inner me BELIEVES you to be. The three cards are Parent You, Adult You, and Little You.
When one of the parties feels conflict, they would make a dramatic card-choosing gesture, agreed upon by both parties in advance, adult-to-adult.
This gesture is the TIME OUT signal. By prior arrangement, and in the spirit of mutual growth and love, both parties would obey one simple rule: TIME OUT means both STOP TALKING, and each chooses two cards from their own mini-deck of six cards.
The first party would then choose two cards… a ME card, and a YOU card.
The ME card would reflect who inside me I believe is doing the listening/talking in the situation..
The YOU card would be who inside you I believe is talking.
The second party would participate in this, by making their own choice of two cards.
Both parties would then simultaneously exchange chosen cards.
They would take a moment to read what they see.
If both parties agree that they’ve correctly identified the inner speaker/listener of their partner, they give each other a big hug, and they proceed adult-to-adult.
If any of the inner talker/listeners has been misidentified, both partners get to say something kind to the inner role self-identified role. Then they proceed as adult-to-adult.
The initiator would say a kind phrase to the partner’s inner-person, appropriate to the role identified.
(If you’re interested in the book, here’s a link to it on Amazon… amzn.to/2X8o86u.)