When it comes to the human race and human nature, there is one thing that is true for everyone.
EVERYONE. Even those of us who have not tuned into ourselves for so long, that we have forgotten it.
And this is it, the leveling-the-playing-field thing: We all want to be heard. That is what let us give up on our parents (caregivers/spouses/friends), way back, originally. We did not feel heard. Or seen. Or accepted. Or loved. or supported. Or worthwhile.
It is also the single biggest gift we can give to anybody. We can listen, we can let them speak or do or be their own selves, true for where they are right now. We do not need to agree or approve or like where they are. But we can let them be their own person.
This is something that I know for sure – every single client or couple I have seen so far, had communication problems. It has been a huge problem in my own life, and in my relationship with my husband. It does not mean that I was scared to voice my opinion (Noooooo, I am part of the seven percent who actually complains in restaurants!), and Jan is the biggest talker ever. But the content, oh the content, and the delivery, and the message behind it all… In the gist of “You must change, finish and klaar” everything was permissible. Blaming, shaming, manipulation, withdrawal and guilting would be the big guns we all take out and fire indiscriminately. And at the same time I was receiving the lethal cocktail of passive aggressiveness, it-never-happened-avoidance-of-conflict and withdrawal. We all are involved in these powerless power-plays until we find out what real, effective communication is really like.
It takes a lot of practice, but mostly it takes getting an awareness of our own patterns, and the patterns we act out over and over in our relationships with loved ones, friends, family, colleagues and the cashier behind the till. When we stand still, actually shut up for a sec, think before we just react and try to be mindful about the weapons leaving our mouths, we actually will find ourselves gaining control over our own lives! And that is called Baby-Steps-Mindfulness!
Real, effective communication needs to be CLEAR, and here is a helpful way to look at it:
Before we can achieve effective results, we actually have to be clear on what is really going on and clear on what we would like the end result to be. It can be as simple as “That was really hurtful to me, and therefore I feel like hurting back” or “I cannot hurt you by saying what I really feel, so I am just going to avoid you, because I am a nice person who does not say hurtful things”. (How is that not hurtful, by the way?)
And then find a way to change that old way of non-communicating into something meaningful: “I am going to tell you without blaming or guilting or shaming how this feels to me so that you as an adult can decide if you want to do something about this thing that is not acceptable to me”.
Because as we all know, stuffing down those feelings will eventually either turn into an explosion or into withdrawal. Or both.
In order to listen, one has to actually, really, truly shut up! And not formulate defenses in your own head.
And expect it from the others too.
This is not a long story, with lots of explaining. Just try it. It works like magic. The listening to others thing, I mean.
And if someone does not listen to you, find a way in which you can communicate that you will no longer be satisfied with conversations in which you are not allowed to talk. You are your own adult, you are not powerless, find a way!
Engaging, as opposed to withdrawing, is key. Once either party use withdrawing as a weapon, there is no relationship, and no chance at a relationship.
No one can hear you if you start out with blaming them.
Everyone has a truth you can affirm:
“You are an adult, and have a right to choice, even if I do not agree.”
“You are important in my life, and therefore I am willing to undertake this conversation.”
If your attitude changes from “Someone has to be different” to “I am willing to be different”, magic happens
Reacting is defending, lashing out, hurting back. Getting even. Winning. But in reality it is losing. Lose-lose situation.
Responding is taking in what the other has said and then formulating a reponse based on the content of the other’s words, not the content of our own feelings!
And not responding? That is just withdrawing, and if we are truthful, punishment and trying to control someone else.
FROM THIS DAY FORWARD, BABY STEPS…
We can only begin with ourselves, but it is truly amazing what happens if we give others the right to be themselves, and to have an opinion that differs from ours. They may even become less entrenched in this thing they so absolutely defend, that they may listen to your viewpoint too!
If you want to be more effective in your relationships and in life, I am here and I am ready to help. More on that here…
I would love to hear from you!..