The Daily Temperature Reading (A Basic Form of Communication)

I first came across The Daily Temperature Reading during the demise of my last marriage when we went for counselling together.  I was very keen to try anything to make things work.  Although my partner seemed to want to make things work, he didn’t really put in much effort.  I guess I don’t need to tell you the outcome of that situation.

The Daily Temperature Reading was developed by Virginia Satir as a way of helping us to communicate in a clear and on-going way – sharing who we are with others we care about.  Although extremely beneficial in helping couples stay close, this technique is very useful for staying close and current in a variety of relationships such as family, work colleagues, friends, etc.

Not everyone is good at communicating and getting their needs met.  This technique is not complicated and brings us back to a basic level of communication in order for others to understand us and our needs and to get to know us better.  Some people might find The Daily Temperature Reading awkward and uncomfortable to do at first, but in time one can develop their own style and eventually it can become second nature to communicate with everyone in this way.

Taking a daily temperature reading with your partner is an important way to develop more open and flowing communication in your relationship.  The temperature reading is a communication tool and not a problem solving device.  It is important for both people to cover each area before moving on to the next, and although it is not required to do all of them every day, if you have something to say in an area, then say it:

*Appreciation

*New Information

*Puzzles

*Complaints with recommendations

*Wishes, hope and dreams

The temperature reading is a nourishing way of keeping each other informed.  Low self-esteem may at times cause you to feel less inclined to do it and less likely to take the risk of being honest with your partner. Sometimes we fear being rejected, or we feel so upset that we don’t want to share our thoughts with our partner.

If a relationship is going well, people make time to be alone together and to talk about what is on their minds.  It is more difficult to do this when things are not ideal and which is why having a formula for communicating, no matter how unnatural it may seem at first, is essential to maintaining good relations.

Appreciations

We are all vulnerable and have the need to be recognised and to know what is good about us.  Nobody is better equipped to tell us this than the person who is closest to us.  Whatever you feel good about, let your partner know.  A thank you for a cup of tea, or making dinner, watching the kids, etc. can mean so much to someone who has had a rough day.  Showing gratitude for what the other person does for us is really important, no matter how small it is.  Telling the other person that they have a great smile and how you feel when they smile at you is also important.  It is important to tell others what we like about them.  We come across negativity every day and we can eventually turn it inward on ourselves.  If you see something in your partner you appreciate, express it with words or a gesture, but the most important thing is to express it.

Having appreciation regularly is an important element in our self-esteem and although it shouldn’t come only from outside ourselves, we do need to feel appreciated, loved and accepted by our partners.  It is also important to know what we are appreciated for and we have to learn to listen to our partner’s appreciation, accept it and internalise it.  Too many people have a conditioned response by dismissing compliments.  If we dismiss genuine compliments, we undermine the person giving them to us.

When we appreciate others, we remember that we really do appreciate the people we are with as it evokes our goodwill and makes us feel more open to others.  It creates a foundation of goodwill for sharing and hearing other information.

New Information

We often forget to tell the people closest to us a change of plans or circumstances.  It is important to be kept up to date with any changes in each other’s lives.  It could be anything from getting a promotion, making plans for dinner, having to go to the dentist, a bit of gossip, fears/worries, or even something of interest.  Anything and everything that helps your partner to keep up with what is going on with you, your mood and generally what is going on in your life is important no matter how small or unimportant you think it is.

Puzzles

People aren’t mind readers, so if you are not sure about something and need clarification, ask for it.  “Is the Dr. appointment routine, or are you worried about something?” Clear up little mysteries before they develop into jealousy, false assumptions, or resentments.  Most puzzles have simple explanations and can save a lot of time and worry.

Asking for information also shows that we care and can clear up anxieties and misunderstandings.  It helps reassure us and builds understanding and trust.

Complaints with Recommendations

It isn’t always easy to complain in a positive way and a lot of complaints just come off as unconstructive criticism.  Complaining in the positive can be something like, “This thing that you said or did really bothered me, I would appreciate it if you would say or do this other thing instead.”

When you state your complaint, be specific about what displeases you and state what you would prefer instead.  There is no guarantee that your recommendation will be accepted.  However, it is a step to opening up dialog to air and deal with what is bothering you.

Wishes, hopes and dreams

Sharing our wishes, hopes and dreams is one of the most difficult and vulnerable parts of the daily temperature reading.  We are asked to share issues or dreams that we may have never shared with another for the thought that it might be silly or different.  We don’t have to have the same dreams and hopes as our partner, but by knowing what they are, we can understand what may motivate our partners and we may even be able to help them reach their goals.

Our hopes and dreams are integral and vital parts of who we are.  If we don’t share these very important parts of ourselves with our partner (as information, not demands or complaints), we deprive them of an essential part of ourselves.

It takes two people to really make The Daily Temperature Reading work.  However, even one person doing it can make a difference in a relationship.  Change begins from within and if only one person takes that step towards change, that person will be able to make better decisions in their life.

Although The Daily Temperature Reading didn’t help my last marriage (nothing was ever going to), it did help me to make some informed decisions as to how to proceed and move forward.  It also helped me to relate better with my children and work colleagues.  Effective communication is the key to any successful relationship and now you have the basics for that.  As ‘they’ say, “Share and share alike”.

The Daily Temperature Reading is adapted from the work of Virginia Satir , PAIRS, and Spectrum .

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