Whatever words we utter should be chosen with care for people will hear them and be influenced by them for good or ill. Buddha
- “We need to talk.”
- “Why, we’ll fight?”
- “Just listen!”
Do any of the above sound familiar? Maybe you could add to the list? A lot of people come to my office saying they have a communication problem. They want to know their partner. They want to feel connected and loved.
Good communication means that you have a free flowing stream of shared experiences, feelings and information. In healthy relationships the best and the worse can be shared, accepted, and understood leaving behind a sense of being known, accepted and loved.
Healthy communication and emotional intimacy thrive in an atmosphere of trust and compassion. Remember,
Your partner moves
toward > pleasure and
away from < pain.
The person you love will
only want to talk with you
if he/she associates you
with love and trusts you.
Your partner isn’t stupid. No one jumps into a conversation if he/she expects to be attacked and judged. Relax and tell your side of the story with kindness and truth.
Love, trust, and compassion are at the heart of healthy communication. Courageously work at communicating truth with a spirit of mercy, forgiveness, and non-violence. Pull away from judgment, vengeance, and pettiness. Understand that someone can understand precisely what you’re saying and still disagree. Understanding does not mean agreement; it can lead to compromise.
The positive virtues draw people toward us just as anger, judgment, avoidance, cowardliness, and poor ethics cause us to draw away. We’ll give up pleasure to avoid pain. You can get immediate satisfaction by calling your partner an idiot but you’ll pay for it. Your partner has plenty of opportunities to get even; so does the server at a restaurant. It pays to be careful. Help your partner want to talk with you about more than the weather and the latest news report.
Communication can be like a stream – clean things up and it flows as nature intended it to. These things that can slow down or block communication –
- You have a simple misunderstanding. My wife pointed to a thumb drive and said, “What’s that?” I responded, “My thumb drive.” She laughed because her real question was, “Do you want me to work on one of the files?” I thought she wanted me to get it off of the counter. Usually humor and patience take care of these problems.
- You’re not being congruent. Your words are “I love you honey” while your body is pulling away, your tone is snappy, and your eyes say, “I’d like to hit you with a brick.” Your partner will respond to your body. Work at getting your words and feelings together.
- You have different interests. A man may find it hard to be interested in the saga of cousin Jenny’s life; a woman may find a discussion of tools dull. Gender and genetics matter. Don’t expect a woman to be a man or a man to be a woman. Keep your same sex friends and look at what you can you enjoy with your partner.
- Your personality type is different. (E.g., you want details and your partner doesn’t.) Personality type affects communication. You can discover your type, and your partner’s, at http://www.keirsey.com. Take a look and consider what might help you make you with your partner.
- You’re discussing painful issues like money, sex, or the kids. Be courageous and face the issue(s). Avoidance (cowardliness) leads to disaster. Get assistance from a couple you respect, a clergyman, or a psychotherapist if the two of you can’t resolve a problem. Bite the bullet; do what you need to do. You’ll gain respect.
- You have a negative attitude, or habit. Is your partner saying that –
- You’re acting like your mom or dad?
- You’re overreacting?
- A person, a place, or something else changes you?
- You always have to right?
Think about what your partner is saying. You may be unaware of what you’re doing. Your partner could be right. You want your partner to be glad he/she is talking with you.
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Next article: Putting yourself in a good place to communicate.