Listen Until You Feel Understood (LUFU)

Listening and Feeling Validated

Quick relationship tip, but one that is so powerful for defusing rapidly escalating arguments and conflicts.

One of the things that can cause partners to spiral off is when they do not feel properly understood and thus validated in discussions which can soon turn into arguments.

A technique presented by Jason Gaddis at The Relationship School is to try to Listen Until your partner Feels Understood, hence the abbreviation LUFU.

What tends to happen when partners feel understood and validated is that their tone of voice usually moderates and descends. 

This is something I think we have all felt when we have had a heated discussion and someone took the time to inquire and ask us about what we were upset about, and really truly took the time and patience to try and understand. When we feel understood there is almost a natural soothing that takes place and this can be something that is not only valuable, but powerful in your discussions with not only your romantic partner, but anyone that you are discussing with.

Unfortunately what often happens is that we may without realizing it start off with what appears to be a blaming or accusatory tone and our partners take it for being attacked and consequently they respond by defending. This usually serves to only make the initiating partner or person feel that much more perturbed because instead of feeling heard and understood they feel invalidated.

Important to note that how we usually end up starting off our discussions will usually have a big impact on the energy we receive in return. John Gottman speaks of beginning discussions with a “gentle start” which can go a long way to having a fruitful and productive discussion.

Next time your partner brings up an issue you can ensure that they are fully heard by trying to listen to them and asking questions until they feel fully heard. When they feel fully heard their emotions will lower and they will calm down and then it will be your turn to respond to what has been said and how it has affected you.

Turn-taking and providing respect to each other can go a long way in resolving disputes as opposed to blaming and defending.

Feel free to leave a comment below on your experiences with trying out LUFU in your relationship.

Namaste

 

Sulking in Relationships

Sulking: Failing to Explain Ourselves 

So often in romantic relationships, we can get into trouble with one another by expecting our romantic partner to read our minds. In the early part of getting to know each other this tactic may work much to our surprise as we are discovering all of the things we have in common.

Unfortunately, as the following video on sulking demonstrates, we often resort to getting quiet and withdrawing when our partner fails to read our mind and “guess” what is bothering us.

Perhaps as so aptly demonstrated in the video we ought to not make our loved ones work so hard to try and guess what is bothering us. 

Why don’t we just TELL them what is bothering us?

Hmmm… now that might be too easy. 

Wouldn’t that require us to forego a lot of attention and drama, and making them suffer for not quickly guessing what it is that is bothering us?

Yes, it would.

And perhaps when we told them what is bothering us, then perhaps we can move towards resolving it and feeling close again.

It may be good for us to remember that we are fortunate that our partners love and care for us, and support us. Do we really want to add the extra burden of having them need to read our minds as well?

Try and remember this the next time you are tempted to withdraw and sulk away from your partner. Tell them and trust that they will want to work things out with you. If they don’t, then that is another matter altogether.

Best Way To Avoid Having An Argument

 

Use “I” Instead Of “You”

 But if you insist on still using “You”… This can be a problem…  Why you might ask?

Well for starters, feel what it is like when someone starts off a sentence with the word “You”.

You forgot to take out the garbage.

Do we not feel somewhat mildly under attack and off balance, and possibly feel an urge to defend ourselves?

I was busy…. I’ll do it later…. Can’t you give me credit for the things that I do do?

Generally when someone starts a conversation with us by starting off with the word “you”, I think that most of us tend to get our guard up.

This tends to lead to a more defensive and less responsive atmosphere in the person receiving our message. They are likely to feel ready to defend themselves and not feel safe.

What Else Can We Do?

Do Something Different!

If we want different results, perhaps it might be best if “we” tried or did something different!

How often do we feel frustrated because we are not getting the desired results from our partner, when all along we are continuing to do the exact same thing over and over again?

Get Their Attention First: Is It A Good Time?

Next time you have something to say to your partner or somebody important in your life, try to first get their attention.

See if it is a good time to talk to them.

Most of us get this when considering asking our boss for a raise!

If the boss seems preoccupied or in a bad mood, we generally decide to forego our “asking for a raise” discussion.

But a lot of times, not so well with our partner. We often don’t see if it is a good time, or if they are in a good space to hear us. And then we launch obliviously into our “pressing” issue and wonder why we are not well received.

Starting With “I”

Now that we have their attention (ie: they are not in the middle of their favourite show, dyeing their hair, pulling apart the transmission, performing open heart surgery)

This is a good time to start.

Try starting your sentence off with an “I” instead of a “you”.

Your partner, or the person you are communicating with, will hopefully get the feeling that it is something that you are sharing with them that comes from within you.

Examples of how to start might be as follows:

  • I feel
  • I think
  • I would like to
  • I am concerned about
  • I need to talk to you about something that is bothering me
  • I am really upset about

Each of these examples are providing “information” about how we are feeling, thinking, responding, reacting to a certain situation.

The important point is that it is:

Coming from within us, and it is something we wish to share with someone. It is not the universal truth of the matter. It is our opinion, our perspective that we are needing to share with this person and would like to discuss it with them.

What To Hope For

A possible good result here, might be that the person you are speaking with:

  • listens to you
  • they are open and receptive
  • non-defensive
  • perceive that it is your opinion that you are sharing
  • they realize that you are needing to share this with them and it is important to you
  • they want to cooperate with you and do what they can to try and help you

What you might get out of the discussion:

  • you may feel heard
  • you may feel respected
  • that what you have to say is important to the other person
  • you may feel valued or cherished (romantic relationship)
  • you may feel relieved as the other person listens and offers their help and support
  • you may feel an enhanced sense of connection and bond with this person
  • and you may find yourself wanting to listen and help them out when they are having difficulties
  • AND you may feel less stressed, frustrated and quite possibly a sense of happiness and peace

OR

We can continue to do the same things (ie: use “you”), feel frustrated, stressed, aggravated, at our wits end, and continue to wonder why our partner, or the people around us, never respond to us the way we would like them to!

The question is:

Is What You Are Doing Now, Giving You The Results You Want?

The more important question might be:

Who Do We Think Is More Likely To Change First?

And Who Do We Have Power Over?

Us or Them?

I wish you good luck, but most of all, I wish you different, better and improved results, for your deciding to take a chance and trying something different!

Hope that you find these communication tips helpful to you.

Go out and “road test” them, and leave me a comment on my website. I’d love to hear how they worked for you, and also like to hear any suggestions that you may have.

Please feel free to pass along this article if you feel it was helpful. Good communication is something that I think can help anyone. Why not share the “secrets” to your new found success!

If you are having difficulty after trying out some of these techniques, or feel that you would like some one on one guidance, please feel free to email me at Ron@Ronlafleurcounsellingservices.com, or you can call me at 250-618-9550 to set up an appointment.

Good luck with your communication!

Ron Lafleur RCC

@ 2016 www.ronlafleurcounsellingservices.com

Loving What Is: The Work by Byron Katie

Byron Katie

Loving What Is: The Work

Every once in awhile, a book comes out that is a real watershed moment in terms of helping us to see reality from a different perspective.

Byron Katie’s Loving What Is, is just such a book.

After a difficult life filled with many problems, among them alcohol abuse, she woke up one day to realize that she had been filling her head with all kinds of “stories” that had been making her life miserable and unworkable.

The Work Is Born

After thinking about her situation and the thoughts that she had been thinking about her reality, what emerged was that essentially she herself was creating her own “personal” interpretation or “spin” on reality, and it was making her life miserable and unworkable.

Loving What Is: The Core Concepts

In Byron Katie’s book, Loving What Is, she lays down 4 fundamental questions.

Questions that anyone can use at anytime, to come up with a completely different view of one’s perceived reality.

The 4 Questions:

  1. Is that true?

Each day we make dozens if not hundreds of statements, either to ourselves or others without examining the absolute truth of those statements.

For example, if we had plans with somebody and they are late, we may say something like this:

“They are so inconsiderate. I swear they are doing it on purpose”

Often times we say or think statements like this without any challenge whatsoever. We become judge, jury, and executioner in our minds.

2. Can you absolutely know that it’s true?

Upon challenging the statement above, how do we know that it is absolutely true?

Have we asked the person whether they are deliberately trying to be late to upset us?

Or have we falsely concluded, oftentimes to our advantage, without checking in to see what may be going on inside of that person.

3. How do you react, what happens, when you believe that thought?

This is key!

When we think thoughts like: “They are so inconsiderate. I swear they are doing it on purpose.” we often feel and make ourselves upset.

We feel badly by thinking a thought that we have often not taken the time to substantiate, and may let it cloud or ruin our day, or days even. Things may go on even longer.

All because we may have assumed, and we went on to form a negative judgment about the person’s character instead of their behaviour.

4. Who would you be without the thought?

This is an incredible question if you think about it!

What it hints at, is that we have the power to determine how we feel, by deciding how we will think!

If we didn’t think this thought: “They are so inconsiderate. I swear they are doing it on purpose,” what might happen?

We might not get upset. What might even go so far as to say:

“We might not upset ourselves!”

Now isn’t that taking full responsibility for our emotions and well-being on a level that we are mostly not accustomed to.

The thought, that by choosing our thoughts and our interpretations of events differently, that we are able to change “How We Feel” and “To Free Ourselves”.

Thoughts are things. They effect how we feel.

But who is forcing us to think those thoughts?

I know… I know…. if only they weren’t doing that thing that ticks us off so much, then we could be happy. Is that too much to ask?

It may or may not be, but I would suggest that one thing may be clearer, that in that moment, we are giving the responsibility and the power over our happiness into the hands of another.

And that is a formula for feeling powerless, and in the worse case, depressed.

If our happiness depends upon whether someone does or says something, then we have a problem!

The Turnaround

This is where Byron Katie really takes us into an extraordinary way of looking at things differently!

If we return back to the sample sentence that I used for step 1:

“They are so inconsiderate. I swear they are doing it on purpose.”

Byron Katie would have us look at this statement and “turn it around.”

For example, instead of “They are so inconsiderate”, is it possible that WE are being inconsiderate by not bothering to think that something may have come up for the other person and is causing them to be late?

Possible turnarounds that causes us to look at OUR OWN behaviour and thinking is:

Am I being considerate?

Is this all about me?

Am I living my life on purpose?

These are but a few possible examples, of how Byron Katie might suggest we turnaround our initial thoughts, and examine them more deeply.

The Conclusion

In reading Loving What Is we may come away with the incredibly powerful realization, that it was always us who was insulting us!

That what we think has so much more power to effect how we feel then what anybody could possibly say or do!

There are exceptions of course, but in large part, we may find it powerfully revealing to see how what we think, and how we interpret things, people and events, is incredibly much more powerful in determining our state of mind and emotions.

Once we wake up to this powerful realization, we may then think:

Do I want to give up my own personal happiness and well-being to what someone else says or does?

The book provides a rare and amazing opportunity to see the workings of a great mind, gently and genuinely asking and challenging a client about how they feel, and how they can change their thoughts for the better.

Let me know what you think if you decide to read Loving What Is. Would love to hear your take on it.

Namaste.

 

 

Communication Tip # 3: Being Interested!

Communication Enhancer: Be Authentically InterestedCommunication

One sure way to improve communication, and to ensure the right amount of energy, is to actually be authentically interested in what the other person has to say.

This may sound logical, or even unnecessary to say, but in a world where we routinely greet each other by asking?

Hello, how are you?

And we don’t usually mean it, or wait around for the other person to genuinely answer.

Actually being interested in, and demonstrated an interest in our conversation partner, may make a huge difference in enhancing the quality and satisfaction we get from our communication.

The Power of Story Revisited

In one of my earlier posts, please see the power of story here, I talked about the importance we give to others by listening to their stories. As well as the importance and respect they show us by listening to our stories.

Why Do We Tune Out?

Perhaps we tune out because:

  • We are only really interested in getting our point across
  • We are being inauthentic and pretending to listen
  • Poor attention span
  • We are multi-tasking (another version of this is “parallel processing”, the reason why computers can parallel process is because they have more than one processor!)
  • Something is more important to us than listening to the person that we are supposed to be listening to (insert cell phones, TV, video games, movies etc.. here)
  • We are being rude and disrespectful. Yes, we must allow for this one.

What Would Happen If We Were More Authentic?

Imagine if we were actually more authentic, and more present in our communication with people!

Now there’s a thought!

Imagine what would happen:

  • We might pay more attention
  • Our communication and level of interaction might go way up
  • We might follow the train of conversation better, and people might follow what we are saying more as well
  • Our level of satisfaction and fulfillment might go up
  • We might find ourselves reaching out and communicating more with each other
  • We might actually feel less lonely, and less in need of constant stimulation, and so called social media to replace authentic connection
  • We might even be able to excuse ourselves when we weren’t interested, or didn’t have the time to really listen carefully. And people might actually be more accepting of it because they sensed our true sincerity.

One Of The Best Things We Can Do For Someone

Is to give them the gift of our time!

In a world that is nearly obsessed with speed, efficiency and money, it is difficult to estimate the true healing potential of giving someone our undivided attention.

True communication begins with being present! As they say, 50% of success is just “showing up”. But let’s share the gift with body, mind, AND soul.

Giving one’s time and interest to someone, can truly show that one cares. Especially now, as we draw near to this holiday season.

So many people are lonely out there. Just stopping for a moment and listening, or even sharing a genuine “hello” and a smile can make all the difference in someone’s day, or even in ours!

When someone asks you how you are doing? Surprise them, stop, and very succinctly let them know! We don’t have to tell them our life story. But when you are done, return the favour, and ask THEM how THEY are doing!

As we lead up to this holiday season… hopefully we can all “show up”, be real, be authentic, and just enjoy the time, and slow down a little together.

Namaste

Note: For more in my continuing series on communication, please click here!

The Power Of Story

The Power of Story

How Story Shapes Our Lives:

Story, has this powerful and often unseen impact on our lives, every single day.  The impact is so significant, and so ever-present, that we don’t even realize that it is with us, there every day to guide our life.

Story has such a vast impact upon our lives, in the sense that it provides the context, the background, and often times the meaning that guides us.

I would go so far as to say that the impact of “story” and “stories” upon our life is equivalent to the impact and importance of water to a fish!

Surely You Are Exaggerating?

I would like to think that I am, however, let me give you some examples of “stories” that run through our minds each and every day.

Just a brief warning before I continue, what follows is not meant to be inflammatory, or meant in disrespect to any group, religion, or system.

  • When we are born, some of us are taken by our parents into the story of religion. Religion is nothing less than the story of how ALL things work and interact in the Universe. It is a VERY powerful story.
  • Some, if not most of us in the West are taken into the story of Capitalism. It is a story that values capital and the pursuit of capital above all else. The story would have us believe, that the best way for the story to end, is for our side to accumulate as much capital as possible as quickly as possible. The story does not allow for at who’s expense the capital is acquired, or at what expense the capital is acquired. Often the losers in this story are those in less developed parts of the world. And sadly, the environment often comes out last in this story as well. The story assumes that there are endless resources and that the environment can be used and polluted to pursue unrestricted gain of capital. This story is largely a falsehood that one tells oneself, thinking that if one can only have enough “capital”, then somehow one can remove themselves from the fray. Players at this story often find that it is not possible to escape the fray. That the fray always seems to find them, and that the environment often has a nasty way of throwing curve balls back at those who believe in this story.
  • Self-sacrifice This is a truly sad story, because the participants in this story tend to believe in scarcity. Basically the notion that there is not enough to go around, and that in order for others to be well and happy, that they must sacrifice themselves or their own happiness.
  • Greed Basically the opposite of the self-sacrificing story. Those involved in this story, also believe that there isn’t enough to go around, but they seek to keep it all for themselves. They do come out and flaunt how much they have been able to acquire for the sake of hoping to trigger envy in those that have less, or who are also buying into the greed story but at a much lower level of success. Also, please see Capitalism.
  • Communism This is the story that we are all equal, and that we should all share equally in the fruits of our labours. This story has been played out several times, particularly in certain Eastern countries in the world. The results so far seem to indicate that this story seems to have some difficulty perpetuating itself, namely due to certain believers in the story believing that they are more “equal” than others, and therefore deserving of a larger piece of the story. This story seems to involve much violence and disruption as portrayed by the believers of the capitalism story. One should note that the capitalism story also contains high levels of violence and disruption, however in the capitalism story, this violent behavior and disruption are often perpetrated by less advantaged groups. The notion being that if only these disadvantaged groups would buy into the capitalism story, then all would be well, and there would be a happy ending.
  • Penal Rehabilitation is the story that is visited upon those unfortunate enough to rebel against either the capitalism or communism story. It seems choosing not to believe in the main story of one’s culture can have some very significant drawbacks, not to mention restrictions on one’s liberties and freedoms. The penal rehabilitation story basically believes that if one were to take a human being and lock them away in a cage like an animal and mistreat them for a major portion of their life, they would then be able to be released back into society, and be well-functioning and well-adjusted members of said society. This unfortunately is a story believed by many who have been lucky enough not to have been subjected to the penal rehabilitation story.
  • Compassion This is a story that is often under-employed. It is the story that would have one be able to experience what it might be like to walk in the shoes of another, without actually having to live that person’s experience, but being able to feel what it is like. The greater application of this story may make other stories obsolete, as through its use one might come to see how others appear to fare less well, while one seems to be thriving at another’s expense. See the following story below on Environmentalism.
  • Environmentalism This is a very interesting story indeed. It has been growing in strength for many centuries, although there are several who believe it is a myth. The environmentalism story would have one believe that the “environment”, the actual area that one lives and breathes in, is worthwhile maintaining and valuing. This story is a bold afront to the capitalism story, which seeks to downplay the environmentalism story, and have it play in a back alley theatre somewhere in a ghetto. Basically, the environmentalism story is a nuisance to the capitalism story.
  • Ecopsychology This is the story that suggests that humans and nature are related. This story would suggest that there is a highly involved interconnection between the human species and the Earth. This is a highly preposterous story to those who would consider their story to be unfurling in a vacuum of their own design. For further details, please see the “free-market” story not listed here, or the “online gamer” story, also not listed here.  Actually, I stand corrected, the “online gamer” story is probably the most seamlessly matched story to its environment. Unfortunately, the online gamer story is often reduced to a very small screen, and is also subject to regular monthly subscription fees, and / or unstable network conditions.
  • Enlightenment This is a story that suggests, that if you go around and try enough things, and then eventually sit under a tree for long enough, good things will and must happen to you. This story would have one believe, that it is generally advantageous that one become rather round and jolly, after one has had said good things happen to one under said tree. Should one experience the full play of the enlightenment story, then it would be advantageous to draft the “Buddhism” story. Please feel free to substitute for the name of this story any prefix, so long as it ends in “ism”. I actually quite like the Buddhism story, although it seems quite maladaptive to hostile Canadian winters. What with all of that sitting under trees for long periods of time and all.
  • I AM This is perhaps the most popular and most played out story globally. The way this story is said to work is, that the teller of the story first begins with the words “I am”, and then anything that comes after these first two words is doggedly adhered to, often till one’s parting from the planet. One of the benefits of this story, is that the teller is often able to use many variations of the “I am” prefix. These variations are often told to others in a way that may help the teller to appear more than what they are, or they may be told to the storyteller themselves to make themselves believe a story that may be in contradiction to reality. E.G. I am a generous person. I am a caring person. I am a hard worker. But it is through the “I am” story that people have the power to change who they are and how they feel about themselves. It is perhaps one of our most powerful stories at our disposal.

And lest one forget, the often difficult, I am a Maple Leafs fan story. It is beyond the scope of this article, but it is important to point out that as there are good stories, there are also many painful ones.

But Seriously….

Some of the above was meant in fun, some of it can help us see the stories that we have involved ourselves in, without perhaps really taking the time to see where these stories lead.

The take home from all of this might be:

  • listen to what we are saying
  • is that really what we believe
  • where is this “story” taking me and the planet?
  • am I stuck in my story?
  • do I even like the story I am telling myself???
  • if you don’t like the story you are telling about yourself, then maybe it’s time to tell another one

Fairy Tales And Their Effect

We love stories!  My intention here is not to bash stories. I love stories!

I have loved hearing stories ever since I was child. I would plead with my father to read stories to me practically every night before bed. Those stories led to books and to movies later on.

The fairy tales that we were told as children, and the stories that we read to our own children have very powerful effects. And for that reason, perhaps we may wish to be careful what stories we share with them. Those stories have power to sway the minds of children and adults alike.

When we were children, the thing to do was to either be a prince, or a princess. If one were a girl, all one had to do was go to a ball and leave a certain special glass slipper somewhere where a prince would find it and then sit and wait patiently until one was swept up to live happily ever after in a castle!

What a story that is! And most of us men wonder why women spend so much time on picking just the right shoes!  Or why we men are so picky about what type of car we drive. The prince came to pick up the princess on a white shiny horse did he not?

My guess is that those stories we first heard as children are still there in the back of our minds somewhere. Make the stories that you tell your children good ones.

Finally

Stories, whether we are telling them to one another, or taking the time to listen to them, are often the way we choose to show we care. If we like or love someone, we will take the time to sit with them and listen to their story, even if we may have heard innumerable variations of the same story over and over. You older couples probably know what I am talking about here.

In conclusion, stories are the powerful, yet often unseen fabric that weaves our lives together. Often the only differences in sides, are the stories that we seek to believe in or deny.

Perhaps we need to take a close long look at the stories we believe in. Because I can assure you, once you start looking for them, you will see stories everywhere!

Namaste (taken from the Buddhist story)

Communication Tip #2: Taking Turns Talking AND Listening!

 Taking Turns: Talking AND Listening

Communication
geralt / Pixabay

Communication tips may come in many forms and varieties, but one thing is sure:

If one person isn’t really listening while the other person is talking, there are bound to be all kinds of miscommunication problems!

What does it mean to really listen?

Really listening would mean:

  • Paying attention
  • Looking at the speaker
  • Not being distracted by devices or other things
  • Giving feedback, verbally or non-verbally
  • Asking pertinent and relevant questions
  • Not interrupting
  • Letting go of our agenda, and not just waiting for our turn to speak
  • Trying to really understand what the speaker is saying

Phew! That sounds like a lot of hard work!!!

And it is! Anyone whose day or work involves a lot of listening will tell you that it can be quite draining and require a lot of work!

But the benefits of offering your speaking partner your full attention and developing good listening skills are many:

  • Better understanding
  • Less potential arguments
  • Improved relationships
  • Greater knowledge
  • Good listening may be returned when it is our turn to speak

The benefits of good listening skills are many, and this list is not meant to be exhaustive. One of the most important things we can give to somebody is our time and attention. Why not give it in a way that also maximizes “our time” by trying to get better at really giving our full attention and concentration when somebody is wanting and needing our attention.

As alluded to in previous posts on communication, making sure that we have the listener’s attention before we start to talk, and making sure that both parties are in a good space, both physically, mentally and emotionally may greatly enhance our chances of having a good rewarding conversation.

The good news is that we can start getting better at this today!

It just takes an earnest desire to really listen to what our partner or friend is saying, and not to assume that we know what they mean. When we are in doubt, maybe that is the time to ask for clarification? And when it is our turn to talk, then we make as much effort as we are able to, to speak in terms that we hope our conversation partner will understand.

Message well chosen, delivered and received, and responded to!

If you are enjoying these communication tips, then I’ve got good news for you! Click HERE to find out how to communciate better in your relationship!

 

 

How To Communicate Better With Your Partner

 

Conflict Arises

Argument
OpenClips / Pixabay

What?  You don’t agree with me???

Sometimes knowing how to communicate better with our partners is not something that comes naturally to us. We all have those moments when we don’t agree with our partner, or they don’t agree with us.

 

But how we handle our differences can make ALL the difference in the world.

Conflict or “difference of opinion”, as I like to call it, are a regular occurrence I believe in any longer term relationship or pattern of relating between two or more people. Add to that differences in the following areas:

  • expectations
  • assumptions
  • addictive demands
  • different upbringings
  • cultures

And you set the stage for regular and frequent differences in perspective. What you do when this happens will make all the difference! What to do when a partner asks us about something, and we know we don’t share the same perspective or viewpoint? Or, what do you do when you promised your partner you would do something and you didn’t do it?

How It Starts!

Butting heads
PeterDargatz / Pixabay

Quite often we are asked about something that we either agreed to do, or that our partner expected us to do. And the moment they ask us about it we realize:

  • we forgot
  • we didn’t do it
  • we were too busy
  • we committed to something that we shouldn’t have
  • we said yes, but we really had no intention of following through

Agreements Will Make Or Break Your Level Of Trust

Trust
Dave175 / Pixabay

Our relationships are only as strong as the level of trust between both partners. And that level of trust comes from the promises that we make and keep. It shows that we are trustworthy and that our word counts for something.

Every promise that you break weakens your relationships ….. Always!

We Broke A Promise:  Now What?

Now What?
geralt / Pixabay

Your partner may know that you did not deliver on a promise. They may decide to ask you if you fulfilled your promise as a way of further testing your honesty. This is not recommended as it sets the stage for an eventual “grilling” and putting one’s partner on the defensive. It is basically setting up your partner. You are on the same side remember. If there is some information that you know of, then state it up front and give your partner the benefit of the doubt to answer you. There may very well be a good reason that they were unable to fulfill their promise to you. As you may at some point feel that you have a very valid reason for not being able to meet an obligation that your partner was relying on you for.

How we treat our partners in some way or another comes back to us

To Defend Or Not To Defend?

Making it worse
Nemo / Pixabay

Defending, is probably one of the worst things that I see on a regular basis that causes difficulties in couples!

When our partner comes to us with a problem or something that is bothering them, chances are that they have likely taken the time to consider whether or not they felt it was worthwhile to speak to us about this issue. They are likely wanting to be:

  • heard
  • understood
  • listened to
  • considered seriously
  • not have to justify how they feel
  • are seeking answers, not justification

However, what our partners and we often get is:

  • defensiveness
  • shutting down
  • anger
  • criticism
  • stonewalling
  • indifference

Is this what we were really hoping to create with the person that we wanted to spend the rest of our life with? And is this what we were hoping to get from them? Imagine if you got the same response from a customer service desk at a major retail store, that you typically give to your partner when they have a complaint or concern?

How long would you shop at this store?  How long would you expect your partner to shop at YOUR store with that kind of service???

Yes there are other “stores” out there!!!!

What To Do Differently:  Inquiry vs. Defensiveness!

When our partner asks us about something we can do the following to better communicate with them:

  • be open
  • friendly
  • concerned
  • give them our full attention
  • listen
  • listen…. yes, I know I just said it, but it is worth saying again
  • listen some more …. no that doesn’t mean waiting for them to stop talking so we can say what we want to say
  • ask questions to show we are interested and involved

And this is where “inquiry” comes in! Inquiry would have us be curious about what our partner is telling us. Realizing that they are not out to get us. Although sometimes it might feel that way. In those cases we can simply say that we are feeling attacked and ask them to change their tone or approach with us. Even better would be to tell our partner how to best approach us. Why make it a guessing game for them. That only leads to frustration on both sides.

A Different Result

When our partner comes to us with a genuine concern, and we can see that they are needing our help to resolve something that is important to us, hopefully we stop what we are doing, if that is feasible, and give them our full attention. Sensing that our partner is approaching us in a gentle, respectful, non-threatening way, we are hopefully able to let down our guard and feel safe. We can then feel comfortable and begin to ask questions and become curious as to how we may be able to help them to solve their problem. From this moment on we are beginning to respond to our partner from a new fresh and enlivening perspective called:  Inquiry.

Detective
OpenClips / Pixabay

It’s almost like being a “detective”. Being curious about things that our partner is telling us. Trusting them to know that what they are telling us is important to them. And they have come to us! Of all the people in the world to help them with their problem! Now doesn’t that make us feel special as opposed to under attack? Start “Inquiring” today and see the difference it can make in all of your relationships!

Inquiring couple
Nemo / Pixabay

Special Note

There may be times when you or your partner may want to just be “listened to” and not asked questions. You may want to help each other out by stating what you need from the other in this moment. On an ongoing basis, knowing whether your partner wants you to just listen to them is a master level course and possibly the subject of another article :)

But if you would like to learn more about communication, click HERE to find out about another tip that could come in handy!

Communication Tips #1 Use “I” Instead Of “You”

If You Want To Have An Argument

Or greatly increase your chances of having one, start your sentence off with the word “YOU”! OR you can use these communication tips!

Argument
RyanMcGuire / Pixabay

 But if you insist on still using “You”… This can be a problem…  Why you might ask?

Well for starters, feel what it is like when someone starts off a sentence with the word “You”.

You forgot to take out the garbage.

Do we not feel somewhat mildly under attack and off balance, and possibly feel an urge to defend ourselves?

I was busy…. I’ll do it later…. Can’t you give me credit for the things that I do do?

Generally when someone starts a conversation with us by starting off

Guard up
Nemo / Pixabay

with the word “you”, I think that most of us tend to get our guard up.

This tends to lead to a more defensive and less responsive atmosphere in the person receiving our message. They are likely  to feel ready to defend themselves and not feel safe.

Do Something Different

If we want different results, perhaps it might be best if “we” tried or did something different!

How often do we feel frustrated because we are not getting the desired results from our partner, when all along we are continuing to do the exact same thing over and over again?

Get Their Attention First: Is It A Good Time?

Next time you have something to say to your partner or somebody important in your life, try to first get their attention. See if it is a good time to talk to them. 

Most of us get this when considering asking our boss for a raise. If the

Busy
DT / Pixabay

boss seems preoccupied or in a bad mood, we generally decide to forego our “asking for a raise” discussion. But a lot of times, not so well with our partner. We often don’t see if it is a good time, or if they are in a good space to hear us. And then we launch obliviously into our “pressing” issue and wonder why we are not well received.

Starting With “I”

Now that we have their attention  (ie: they are not in the middle of their favourite show, dyeing their hair, pulling apart the transmission, performing open heart surgery)

This is a good time to start.

Try starting your sentence off with an “I” instead of a “you”.

Your partner or the person you are communicating with, will hopefully get the feeling that it is something that you are sharing with them that comes from within you. 

Examples of how to start might be as follows:

  • I feel
  • I think
  • I would like to
  • I am concerned about
  • I need to talk to you about something that is bothering me
  • I am really upset about

Each of these examples are providing “information” about how we are feeling, thinking, responding, reacting to a certain situation. The important point is that it is

Coming from within us, and it is something we wish to share with someone. It is not the universal truth of the matter. It is our opinion, our perspective that we are needing to share with this person and would like to discuss it with them.

What To Hope For

A possible good result here, might be that the person you are speaking with:

  • listens to you
  • they are open and receptive
  • non-defensive
  • perceive that it is your opinion that you are sharing
  • they realize that you are needing to share this with them and it is important to you
  • they want to cooperate with you and do what they can to try and help you

What you might get out of the discussion:

  • you may feel heard

    Happy face
    PublicDomainPictures / Pixabay
  • you may feel respected
  • that what you have to say is important to the other person
  • you may feel valued or cherished (romantic relationship)
  • you may feel relieved as the other person listens and offers their help and support
  • you may feel an enhanced sense of connection and bond with this person
  • and you may find yourself wanting to listen and help them out when they are having difficulties
  • AND you may feel less stressed, frustrated and quite possibly a sense of happiness and peace

OR we can continue to do the same things (ie: use “you”), feel frustrated, stressed, aggravated, at our wits end, and continue to wonder why our partner, or the people around us, never respond to us the way we would like them to!

The question is:   Is What You Are Doing Now Giving You The Results You Want?

The more important question might be:  

Who Do We Think Is More Likely To Change First?  

And Who Do We Have Power Over?

Us or Them?

I wish you good luck, but most of all, I wish you different, better and improved results, for your deciding to take a chance and trying something different!

Hope that you find these communication tips helpful to you. Go out and “road test” them, and leave me a comment on how they worked. Feel free to also subscribe to my newsletter, and / or come back again for more communication tips. I hope to make this an ongoing series.

If you are liking these communication tips, I’ve got good news, there’s more, just click here to go on to Communication Tip #2!

 

 

 

 

 

Why COOPERATION Could Be MORE Important Than LOVE!

Cooperation: More Important Than Love?

Could cooperation, be the highest attainment that a couple could strive for in a romantic relationship?

Cooperation, Couple, love
takazart / Pixabay

In fact, love is often considered almost a synonym for relationship! And I too thought that to attain the state of love was the highest attainment in a couple.

I had never considered the ultimate importance of cooperation.

That is …. until I read Ken Keyes Jr’s A Conscious Person’s Guide To Relationships. 

What New Could Keyes Possibly Add?

In this book, Keyes suggests that we ought to have lots of love for lots of people. That ideally we would be coming from a place of love in our interactions with people and the world.

I know, kind of sounded “Hippie-ish” to me too. But then again, if being “Hippie-ish”

Heart, Hippie, Love
OpenClips / Pixabay

means favouring “love” over say “power”, or “control”, or “hate”, then I’d rather count myself amongst the Hippies.

But given my propensity to wear sandals once or twice a year, this probably won’t happen!

Cooperation Greater Than Love?

Keyes talks about “the lift I get by looking at my relationship as a way of cooperating in the great adventure of life. It sets up an energy of fun and enjoyment.”

Fun and enjoyment ?! 

Hey! Just a second there Mr. Keyes! What are you talking about there? That one can be in relationship, love your partner AND the world, AND have fun and enjoyment!!!

Keyes goes on to suggest that in relationships, cooperation is a better basis then love!

He is not saying that love is not important.

He is saying that it may be better if one is coming from a position of love in general, and that one considers “cooperation” as the basis for the foundation of a relationship.

I was struck by the notion that anything could be considered higher than love! But when I sat down and thought about it. A lot of people seem to profess that they love each other, but don’t seem to be able to stand each other!

There seem to be an awful lot of people who “love” each other, but can’t seem to get along with each other to save their lives, much less be happy together!

But I may be assuming a lot to suggest that the purpose of people coming together in relationships is to be happy! Many seem to be terrified of being alone, or don’t think that they can do well for themselves in love, so they settle, or so it seems.

When Cooperation Is Of Importance

But when couples put a desire to cooperate with each other as a priority: then this is where the magic happens!

I believe that when one wants to succeed, and wants to find a way, then the magic of cooperation is unleashed.

Magic
OpenClips / Pixabay

 

  • when one wants to cooperate
  • when one wants to find a way that works for both partners
  • when one decides to place happiness above being self-centered
  • when one considers the happiness of their partner to be of higher value than winning
  • when one can see the value of and benefit of two people’s perspective vs. one

Would You Be Willing To?

 While pondering Keyes’ perspective on cooperation, it suddenly hit me one day, and it was like a thunderbolt out of the sky!

The only reason that anybody ever really does anything is because they want to

We may kid ourselves and say that they have to do it, or think that we can force somebody to do something. But the reality I think is, that anything that our beautiful partners ever do for us is  because they want to. Think about it:  If you didn’t want to do something, would anybody be able to force you to do it? Consider that the next time your partner is going out of their way to spend some of their precious time or energy doing something for you.

And then we may feel a deep sense of gratitude…. but that is another topic!

Big Thanks
geralt / Pixabay

 

But for now, just know that your partner has decided to cooperate with you. And why not cooperate with them?

You may be surprised what you get back!

If you found this post helpful, please pass it along to somebody that you think might be able to benefit from it.

Namaste