Updated: Nov 10, 2022
"It takes two to speak the truth - one to speak and another to listen" - Henry David Thoreau.
Today I want to write about my very favourite communication tool: DYADS. I use it with pretty much all of my couples who are looking for marriage counselling, who need help improving their communication skills or intimacy.
The word 'Dyad' comes from the Greek (duad) and Latin (dyas, dyadis) roots - meaning two units treated as one.
Many people use dyads as a communication tool. It looks like this:
Two people, sitting in front of each other, facing each other: a speaking partner and a listener.
We start with a question - maybe something as simple as “tell me something about your day”, maybe a lot deeper “tell me how your soul is doing”. The question can be specific, “Tell me about a goal you have for yourself” or open, “Tell me something you want me to know”.
The dyad is not a back-and-forth conversation. It is not a discussion. The listener asks a question and stays silent and present while the sharing partner speaks freely; there is no dialogue.
Normally we listen to respond. We are listening for a point and the moment we think we’ve got it, we are basically waiting for our turn to respond and share what we think about what we just heard.
There is an analyzer part of our brain that’s always on.
“I agree/I disagree”, “I agree - this is good, I disagree - this is bad”, and on and on it goes. We are not really listening; we are waiting to respond ourselves, because …well, what about me? When will I get a chance to share or to offer my advice or opinion.
In dyads, we listen to understand, completely and deeply. We practice and train that analyzer part of our brain to slow down, to be present.
It’s not about me, or my turn, whether I agree or not. I’m here with only one intention - to understand what my partner is saying.
The listening partner DOES NOT respond, DOES NOT offer their opinion or advice.
And when their partner is finished sharing, the listener simply says “Thank you.” NOTHING MORE.
Thank You means, I got it, and thank you also means - thank you for sharing with me.
And then they switch.
Now it’s the speaking partner’s turn to ask the question and listen, and the listening partner’s turn to respond.
The person who speaks next does not respond to what was just shared, he/she answers the same question from their heart, anew. They take a deep breath, reset, focus on their being and speak from that place. Because when they were listening, they were so focused on their partner, they did not have a chance to think about what they are going to say. Otherwise they would not be fully present.
Often dyads are timed, so everyone has equal amount of time to share.
If the topic is very charged you might start with a minute each, and repeat a few times.
If you just want to connect with a friend or a partner after not seeing them for a while, you might give everyone 10 minutes so they can share freely.
You’ll find what works best for you.
It's authentic and vulnerable and real. It creates a deeper understanding and relating between people.
Sometimes it’s pretty magical. Sometimes there’s a sense of unity. There is a palpable sense of presence.
Understanding does not need to mean agreeing.
We often are afraid to really understand another person because we think if we understand that would mean they won, or that we have to agree with them.
But it’s not about that. It’s about our basic precious human needs to be heard, seen, understood and respected.
It’s from that space we then can have a conversation, work on common goals, work out a compromise or agree to disagree, respecting each other.
Dyads are brilliant tool for couples - it can also a dangerous tool.
Speaking partner - when sharing with the listener, remember, you are talking about yourself. This is not an opportunity to lash out at your partner.
Refrain from saying the word “you”, refrain from criticism, defensiveness, contempt.
Your intention is to get your share across to your partner; how it is to be you, in this moment, in relationship with them.
Listening partner - your job is to honour what is being shared, and not to use it against you partner.
This is not about you…this is about them. Your job is to be fully present in the share; to hear your partner fully and completely, without judgement, without any response other than “thank you - I hear you, I understand."
This practice is very intentional; it creates a sacred space.
Make it yours and make it a practice. See what happens!
Examples of Dyad questions:
Tell me something you feel in your heart
Tell me something about you that you would like me to know
Tell me something about you that you think others don’t get.
Tell me something that’s important to you.
Tell me about a goal you have for yourself
Tell me something you need/Tell me something you want (ask one question after another, and only then switch)
Tell me how you want to be loved
Tell me how you want to love
Tell me something you love about me
Tell me something about (our family, relationship, sex, intimacy, work, health, money, parenting) you would like me to know
Tell me something about you and money that you need me to understand
Tell me something you think we agree on/Tell me something you think we disagree on
Tell how how you need to be supported
Tell me something that is very important to our relationship
Tell me what I need to know in order to understand that completely
In Enlightenment Intensive workshop dyads are used to ponder ancient question (coming from Zen Koans). The goal there is not to come up with a logical answer, but to experience it directly. (that’s a topic for a different conversation)
Tell me who you are
Tell me what you are
Tell me what another is
Tell me what life is
Tell me what love it
What Others say:
"Learning dyads from Rovena has been invaluable for deepening my relationships, with my beloved and also with girlfriends. There is something meditative and heart-opening about relaxing into receiving what another has to say.
There are times when we have used this tool during conflict. As the other speaks, I feel my reactivity rising and falling without speaking it aloud. This helps with truly listening to understand instead of having defensive outbursts.
There’s also something really special about going on one’s own journey of sharing and discovery without interruption when in the speaking mode.
I love having Rovena’s blog post to share with those who have not had the pleasure of attending a live event with her. Recently I shared the dyad post with my good friend I connect with weekly over the phone (she lives in Mexico and I am in Canada). We’ve started dyading over the last couple months, and I believe we are connecting more deeply than ever by the magic of dyads. There are so many gifts to receive being Rovena’s presence, attending an event or women’s circle, and one of the most profound for me has been dyads."
If you'd like more help and want to practice using dyads with your partner, set up a free consultation with me, to see if Couples Counselling or Coaching might be what you need.