The Imago Dialogue is an active exchange between a Sender (the speaking partner) and a Receiver (the listening partner).
Here's an example of an Imago dialogue that we had recently in our own marriage, not necessarily for a frustrating issue or a problem, just so one of us could be deeply heard.
More inspiration about Imago Therapy:
- Imago therapy, more than just a communication technique
- What happy couples are doing differently
- The Getting the Love You Want couples retreat is magical
Breaking down the Imago Intentional Dialogue into parts.
The Sender speaks his or her message as simply and concisely as possible; that is, the Sender shares thoughts and feelings succinctly, so the receiver can hear the thoughts in digestible parts- rather than being dumped on with a big rant!
Here's how it will look:
Step 1: Send and Mirror
(First ask for an appointment to make sure now is a good time.)
So it would start with the Sender saying something like, "I feel, I love, I need . . . )." It's important to use I Statements.
The Receiver listens to the Sender and then accurately mirrors the message back as verbatim as possible.
Why? Think of a flat mirror; it reflects exactly with no distortion.
In response, the Receiver echoes the Senders message word for word or by paraphrasing using a lead sentence like:
Let me see if I've got you. You said . . .
When mirroring, the Receiver:
1. CONTAINS any personal response (for example, does not offer
2. SUSPENDS analysis of his or her partner (does not respond in any
way with his or her point of view)
3. REFRAINS from evaluations (evaluating positively or negatively what
the partner says)
Becoming quiet inside while our partner is talking is difficult for all of us, but it is important because when we are thinking or paying attention to our feelings while our partner is talking, we are not listening. We are reacting, and we will tend to distort what our partner is saying.
After mirroring, the Receiver checks for accuracy by asking:
Am I getting you? Or Did I get that?
After checking for accuracy, the Receiver invites more:
Is there more about that?
When there is no more about that, the Receiver summarizes the Senders message, checking
Let me see if I got it all. You said . . . Did I get all of that?
Mirroring trains us to listen to what the other is saying rather than listening to our own reactions and responses. It requires that the Receiver put his or her thoughts aside momentarily in the service of fully hearing the other and acknowledging his or her point of view.
Proverbs 18:13 teaches, If one gives answer before hearing, it is folly and shame. It also requires that the Sender makes a conscious decision to share.
Most "dialogues" are really monologues, where two people are talking (or shouting) and neither is listening (or is hearing only their own voice).
Mirroring begins to level the field so that there are two active players, with two separate voices, in an equal exchange of speaking and
Mirroring helps us begin to unravel the mystery of our partner because we humble ourselves before the unknown. The practice of mirroring is a commitment to discover our partners world to suspend our own internal world for a moment in order to be fully present to another. This requires quieting our minds so we can listen without being distracted by our own thoughts. For some, this may require some serious practice.
Step 2: After this we Summarize, Validate and Empathize our partner.
"In summary what I heard you say"- summarize
"What you're saying makes sense"- validation
"I imagine you might be feeling sad, mad, glad, happy..." - empathize
We love teaching our couples the Imago dialogue and using it in marriage counseling sessions! Schedule a marriage counseling session with us today and enjoy the benefits of connection and communication with your spouse.
Be in touch,
Shlomo and Rivka Slatkin