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Attune To Your Partner To Build Trust

attune, attunement, Gottman, relationships, Dan Yoshimoto, build trust, build emotional connection, Awareness of your partner’s emotion; Turning toward the emotion; Tolerance of the two different viewpoints; Understand your partner; Non-defensive responses to your partner; Empathetic response;

In this week’s Success Newsletter, I would like to like to reveal the 6 ways to attune to your partner to build trust.

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6 Ways To Attune To Your Partner

What is the most important quality in a relationship?


Trust and betrayal are the most important issues in personal and business relationships. Trust adds stability to your relationship and deepens the bond and emotional connection; betrayal destroys your relationship and connection.

Trust is built when you attune to your partner. I will explain below what it means to attune to your partner and how to do that in 6 steps.

What is trust? How can you define trust?

Trust is summed up as the answer to the question: “Are You There for Me”?

Trust is the feeling of safety – ‘I can feel safe knowing that Mary cares for me, my welfare and best interests.’

“Can I trust you to choose me over your friends?”
“Can I trust you to choose my interests over those of your parents?”  
“Can I trust you to care more about this relationship than about yourself?”  
“Can I trust you to be home when you say you will be home?”  
“Can I trust you to be motivated to earn money and create wealth for our family?”

Source: The Science of Trust: Emotional Attunement for Couples. ©Gottman, John M. (2011)

Trust has two key dimensions:
1 What
2 How & Why?

The ‘what’ of trust refers to the contents: truth, honesty, and transparency.

The ‘How & Why’ of trust refers to your partner’s intentions, motives, and actions toward you:

“Just where do I fit into my partner’s motivational scheme?”
“Do I come first in some important sense, compared to other people or my partner’s goal, or do other things take priority over me?”

Dan Yoshimoto created a model as the basis for building trust and the emotional connection: Attunement. When you attune to your partner you build trust. He refers to it as the acronym ATTUNE:

Awareness of your partner’s emotion
Turning toward the emotion of your partner
Tolerance of the two different viewpoints
Understand your partner
Non-defensive responses to your partner
Empathetic response

1. Attune: Awareness

Ask questions, without being impatient or annoyed; avoid “What is it now?” or “With you it’s always something, isn’t it?”

Beware of being dismissive or disapproving about the negative emotion. Remember, everyone has been negatively impacted by things that happened in childhood; be aware of your partner’s sensitivities – avoid triggering pain and instead seek to soothe.

2. Attune: Turning Toward

Communicate with your partner your needs in a positive goal-oriented manner. Instead of telling them what they did wrong (criticizing, blaming), tell them what they can do that is positive: “Here’s what I feel, and here’s what I need from you.”

3. Attune: Tolerance

Tolerance does not imply agreement, compliance, or adopting your partner’s perspective as your own. Tolerance suggests that you are open to listening and learning about your partner’s perspective.

Instead of arguing about the facts, you become tolerant of your partner’s perceptions and their emotions; you accept your partner’s emotions, and they accept yours. Again, tolerance does not imply you accept all behaviors; you accept the way your partner perceives what happened, and you create the opportunity for each of you to process those emotions.

When you attune to your partner, you create harmony and deepen the love and mutual trust!

4. Attune: Understanding

When you choose to understand your partner, you listen to your partner without interrupting and without an agenda to change, give advice, correct or guide your partner. You patiently listen and seek to know your partner, their emotions and their perspectives. And yes, of course, you will share yours after you have heard theirs.

Further, you avoid the natural reaction to take responsibility for their emotions, and you avoid trying to stop them from feeling pain or crying: “Please help me understand what the tears are all about.”

Remember, your partner may not yet fully understand him/herself. Again, be patient and be willing to revisit the experience until you can both fully understand yourselves and your responses, as well as process fully the emotions.

5. Attune: Non-Defensive Listening

How do you usually respond to your partner when the emotions are intense or negative? Most likely you become defensive, or you feel a flood of your own emotions. This is natural, and it is overcome by developing the skill of reducing your defensiveness. Remember, being defensive can be driven by the feeling of guilt or self-blame, not knowing how to respond to high emotions, or seeking to be right.

Focus on your desire to love and protect your partner. Again, listen and seek to understand their perspective and their experience. Beware of taking everything personally. What is happening for your partner? Why do they see it this way? Listen patiently and breathe so that your defensiveness does not control you! Maximize agreement and seek common ground.

6. Attune: Empathy

You have probably noticed the overarching theme thus far in the strategy of Attune: understanding your partner. The next step is to offer empathy and compassion. Empathy consists of being able to understand what the person is feeling & experiencing, and to actually feel it as well. Compassion is feeling someone else’s pain and choosing to take action to relieve it.

Here comes the challenge, earlier I encouraged you to listen without trying to solve the problem and to listen without trying to stop the person from what they are feeling. (See the paragraph on Understanding.) Now, I am encouraging you to also express compassion, which is about releasing the pain.

That sounds like a contradiction.

What matters here is that you know when to allow your partner to feel, express and process the emotion, and when it is more beneficial to help them release the pain – particularly if you are the one that contributed to that pain.

Act to validate your partner: “It makes sense to me that you would have these feelings, and needs, because….” Validation is about communicating to your partner that they and their expression is worthy and therefore valid or valuable. 

Attune To Your Partner To Build Trust: Summary

If you struggle to remember all of the above suggested strategies, then simply remember this summary of Attune or emotional Attunement with your partner: see, understand and validate your partner! Listen patiently, accept and validate your partner’s emotions, don’t take it personally and offer compassion by seeking to understand your partner and what drives them. We all want to be seen, heard, understood and validated!

If you have experienced betrayal or if you are trying to build trusts, or if you suffer from low self-esteem or feeling unworthy or if you have experienced abuse or trauma, you can resolve it rapidly and easily, and be set free of the pain with my SRTT process. Book a one-on-one session with me.

You can add to the conversation below.

I wish you the best and remind you “Believe in yourself -You deserve the best!”

Patrick Wanis Ph.D.

Celebrity Life Coach, Human Behavior & Relationship Expert & SRTT Therapist

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