Technology has certainly been pointed to as the source of problems in relationships, but in reality, it is just a tool to be used for better or for worse. As a psychologist in Orange County, I work with some pretty tech-savvy couples and will often recommend the use of video recording, so easily available on a cell phone, to enhance their communication.
Yes, cell phone video can be a powerful tool for the couples I work with because it gives them an unbiased picture of themselves and how they communicate and can be slowed down or repeated as needed to better understand. I will have couples work on the communication tools at home with a camera focused on them. The idea behind this is for each of them to see how they REALLY sound and what they REALLY say when communicating, and then to also listen again to what their partner ACTUALLY said. Be ready for a surprise.
I remember having to review audio and video of therapy session throughout my training to become a psychologist and was often surprised by what I found. I would sound more confusing than I remembered, miss key points my clients made and many other blunders. All this was while I was a psychologist in training, working very hard to be aware of myself and my clients and intentional in focusing and communicating well. Be ready for a surprise when you watch yourself, and realize there’s always a lot to learn about communicating well with others.
Remember to also pay attention to what you see in the video that’s working well. Using video is not just to highlight the problem areas for growing. It can also point out where you are doing well already. Even more, when you try something new and different and it leads to a communication success, it’s encouraging to watch again and learn from your victories. Change is hard work and everyone does better when they have a success to watch in action.
So besides marriage counseling, video recording is another way to get feedback for yourself to improve your communication skills. Just to be clear, the use of video or audio recordings is always to be with your partner’s consent and is to be used for each partner to focus on their own skills in communication, not critique the other person. You may be surprised, when you see it all in video, just how much you are contributing to what’s not workind in the marriage communication. And, unless it’s a recording you’re both proud of, please erase it after your done reviewing. We don’t need another Orange County reality show from someone hacking your phone and putting all your old conflict recordings up on prime time television!