Saturday, August 27, 2011

Communicating in Relationships

Ever had an argument and three days later you can barely remember what the heck it was you fought over? Or your having issues with something a friend or lover does and you just brush it off, don’t say a word and it festers? I know I have and a lot of the work I do is counseling, relationships are never perfect but I find most often it is due to a lack of communication, misunderstanding or some other small missteps. This doesn’t apply just to love but to all types of partnerships whether it be friends, family or work. Relationships should be give and take, a healing and empowering experience. But we so often get wrapped up in what we think we hear, or don’t know how to get our points across. Other times we forget to cherish what we have, and begin to neglect the other person or just expect them to be there when we need them.  

Recognize Your Faults

Firstly you need to recognize your own issues. I find about ninety percent of the time that one person or even both are holding on to past baggage, and holding their new mate or friend accountable for the transgressions of the past.  We have a tendency to play the blame game, it’s easier to blame someone other than yourself for the issues going on. However, we cannot blame just one person it takes the both of you to make things work.

Recognize Your Divinity

This is one of the most important parts, you need to recognize that you do not deserve to have these issues in your life, that you are entitled to better. But by recognizing that aspect in yourself you must do the same with the other person. You were not put here to argue and hold in your emotions, you are here to have fun, learn and enjoy your life.
Along with being empowered by your connection to the Divine, there is also the responsibility that comes with it. Sometimes to heal a relationship someone needs to be the hero and put the olive branch out there and actually put the healing in motion. In this case, you.

Recognize Your Tools

Your five senses are imperative when it comes to communication, we were built to be observers and thinkers. Sometimes this is to our own detriment, our minds can overanalyze a couple of words that were said. Our eyes can pick up on defensive body language and our ears can tune in and out of conversations while we have a million things going on in our own head. We expect people to say exactly what they mean, however, we typically only vocalize maybe five percent of what we are actually thinking during a conversation. The rest is displayed through body language, and the eyes.  Be cognizant of the body language, a simple thing to pay attention to is the arms. If they are crossed or have their hands on their hips then you know the person probably won’t hear what you are trying to say, they are in a defensive position. If they are down by their sides or in a relaxed position then you know they will absorb what you are saying. They eyes are the next easiest thing to read, if they seem dazed then the person has zoned out into their own space, if they are looking all over the place then that means their brain is going a million miles a minute and this is not the time for a real conversation. You are looking for that person  to maintain eye contact with you. Your biggest tool is your voice, sometimes we get riled or excited and don’t even notice our tone has changed. You need to really be aware of how your are putting things across to people, do you sound patronizing or sarcastic?

Recognize Your Safe Place

In my house there is a room, this room is really special it is sacred space for me and my partner, there are no secrets and no barriers between us in this room. When we are having arguments, we go to this safe place and let it all hang out. When we leave the room whatever issues we had were dealt with. There are eleven commandments we have to go by in this room:

  • No Yelling
  • No Interrupting
  • No Sarcasm
  • No Violence
  • You Must Listen (some people just hear the tone or tune in and out of the conversation this rule means you have to pay close attention give the person the respect they deserve)
  • You Must Acknowledge (what the other person is saying)
  • You Must Try To Understand  (where the other person is coming from)
  • You Must Recognize The Right To Feel (it may not be fact, but it is what they felt around what you are saying and vice versa)
  • You Must Use “I” Statements (I feel, I think, I hear, I see that way the other person does not feel you are attacking them and you are taking responsibility)
  • You Must Say Things In Love (you can’t just say whatever, you must say things out of love and want to heal you can‘t just attack)

These rules have helped not just me and my spouse but many other clients of mine, as it eliminates all escapes and barriers. It is not a place you go to when you are angry, sometimes it is best to wait a little bit let you both cool off and then come there, when you can say what you really mean and what won’t just hurt.

Recognize When You Are Reacting
In relationships people are often more reactive than proactive and so they have the tendency to just let their emotions and insecurities take over, by carrying on the vicious cycle of attacks. When all they really want is peace in their own lives and relationships. Next time you are about to boil over with anger ask yourself what you are reacting to? Why are you reacting to it? And by reacting how will that help? After you have answered those questions ask yourself why is the other person attacking? You must recognize that there are only two emotions love and fear and we work out of one of these at any moment during the day. When someone begins attacking out of nowhere it is out of fear. What insecurities do they hold around the issue? What do they need from you to feel more safe and secure in themselves? As humans we have a responsibility to support and help each other when we are in pain.

Love whether it be friendship or mate is a beautiful thing, but much like the rest of our lives it has it’s moments. Communication is essential in all endeavors, we are a social species. With technology getting more and more efficient people are losing the ability to communicate effectively, this has put a damper on more than one relationship when one says something through an e-mail or instant message and it was misconstrued by the recipient. It sounded good in your head though right? Get back to real face to face communication, when you have respect and honesty in a relationship, understanding is inevitable. Whatever you feel, put it on the table, not in an accusing way but in a healthy way.  Cherish your relationships and see them for the blessings they are.