Blame: Relationship Killer!


Blame: Love Goes Astray

Arguably one of the most destructive forces in a relationship is BLAME.

The problem with blame is that it projects negative energy and intent at our loved one.

Blame rarely seeks to understand or empathize or reach out in compassion.

It is most likened to this familiar phrase:

The best defense is a good offense!

Why Do We Blame Then?

There can be many reasons for why we blame.

Some of them probably originate in our earlier years, when we were probably made to pay a high price for telling the truth by our parents.

You stepped forward and answered a question honestly when asked, and the result may have been that you were grounded for 2 weeks!

The lesson most of us learn from that is: there is a price to be paid for telling the truth.

That is highly unfortunate when children grow up learning that it is unsafe to tell the truth. Perhaps we as adults can make it safer for children to tell the truth, and make these occasions more about opportunities to learn, and less about being punished?

Lack of Responsibility

A failure or an inability to look within at our possible role in the event or outcome.

A strong fear that we may be accused of something, and be unwilling or unable to be strong enough to deal with the scrutiny that it may involve, may also lead us to blame others, if only to redirect attention away from ourselves.

A basic not owning up to our role in things.

Not owning up to our responsibilities

The Net Effect Of Blame

Here are some possible results of using blame in our communication and conflict resolution strategies:

  • what good energy may be present becomes tainted
  • people may lose respect for us
  • they may not count on us in the future
  • we may lose out on opportunities because we are deemed unreliable
  • we may initiate conflict with others by casting blame upon them
  • and worse, people may start to avoid us

In summary, the short-term focus of using blame as a way out of a difficult position may prove helpful in the short run, but in the long run the possible damage to our reputation and relationships may be incalculable!

We may be way ahead over the long haul by owning up to our actions and possible mistakes. By adopting a more lenient style with ourselves, we may also come to do so with others, and also end up fostering a more forgiving learning culture around ourselves.

Just as an aside, I remember some time ago reading about the differences in worker suggestion rates amongst American and Japanese workers. I was startled and yet not quite surprised that the average American worker submitted on average 2 suggestions per year, while the typical Japanese worker submitted in excess of 65 suggestions!

We know what has happened to the American automobile industry over the last few decades. When faced with competition from overseas manufacturers, did they tackle them head on and own up to the poor quality of their product, or “blame” the foreign manufacturers for competing unfairly and imposing tariffs?

I think we know how that one worked out. In the end, consumers voted with their dollars and purchased more reliable, higher quality import cars.

So in the end, we can decide to “blame”, and we can probably decide to keep on blaming until the cows come home, or perhaps we can listen to others in our life with open ears and open minds, and see whether we do share in some sort of accountability for what we have done.

The choice as always is up to us!

Note: If you would like to read up more on how to “stop blaming” in your relationship. Here is a book that I would highly recommend. It is a very helpful and fun read Stop Blaming Start Loving



The Power Of Optimism And Hope

The Power Of Optimism and Hope

Why Optimism And Hope Are Important

Optimism and hope are key navigational tools that help us get through life and cope with change.

Without these two important factors in our life, one could argue that dealing with life’s adversities and challenges could be extremely more difficult.

But how about taking a closer look at what each of them mean?

Optimisma disposition or tendency to look on the more favorable side of events or conditions, and to expect the most favorable outcome

Hopethe feeling that what is wanted can be had, or that events will turn out for the best

The Power of Optimism and Hope

Helen Keller, that fountain of inspiration, brought these two blessed concepts together so beautifully in the above quote.

Or perhaps, another more humorous way of looking at it might be:

The Power of Optimism and Hope
Optimism Mongolian BBQ Style?

But Is This Just A Bunch Of Pollyannaism?

Surely just thinking and believing that things will work out for the best is nothing more then short-sighted naivete?

Is it really?

Perhaps one of the things that motivates us to get out of bed in the morning is the belief that today is a new day.

That the new day brings a new world of possibilities.

Certainly today in Canada, seems to be one of those days.

With a new government being sworn in, the air is filled with optimism and hope. A feeling that we have turned the corner. That things can and hopefully will be different.

But if that is to be true on a national level, it will take more than just words and election victories.

It will take action.

The good news is that the new government seems to remember its campaign promises, and seems eager to put them into place. Time will tell, if this does in fact occur.

But the mood appears to be bright in the country. The citizens appear to be willing to give the incoming government the benefit of the doubt, and hopefully a chance to prove themselves.

The stakes are high. Promises made must be honoured, otherwise the trust and faith that has been placed in the new government will wither and fade. And that would likely lead to pessimism and discouragement, and quite possibly betrayal.

Time will tell. It always does.

But What About The Rest Of Us?

We as individuals have not won a federal election. Some of us may have voted for the party that won, and others not.

Perhaps what is important, now and at all times in our lives is:

What do we believe about the nature of the world, our place in it, and our power to change our own personal world?

In essence, what we are talking about is our sense of: Personal Power

Right now a lot of people in this country are feeling empowered. Possibly because they feel that they might actually have a government that may be willing to listen to them, consider their opinions, but also take action on matters that are important to them.

We Have An Opportunity

Right now there is a great opportunity to take this sense of optimism and hope that we are feeling, and to channel it into our lives.

It is an opportunity to take the time to make an assessment of our lives to date. To see how far we have come, to see where we are, and more importantly to chart a course for where we would like to go.

Right now, we might feel like we have a favourable government tone in our nation’s capital. This may change, and it may change quickly. Governments seem to be only as popular and effective, as their handling of the latest scandal or critical issue.

This is an opportunity to set a course for ourselves, for our relationships, for our families, and organizations. An opportunity to be buffeted by this spirit of optimism, and to set a course into the wind.

There will be many challenges. Of that we can be sure. We need only look to history to verify this for ourselves.

But as we look around the world. There is much to be thankful for in this great country that we call Canada.

Personally, after returning from vacation overseas, I am immensely grateful and thankful to be a Canadian citizen. But we face many challenges as a nation. Our reputation in the world has been tarnished. We are no longer the world leaders that we were.

But there is hope. And there is optimism in the air.

This country can be what it once was. A place that the world looked to for a model of inclusion and compassion. A place of global leadership, inspiration and peace. We are getting back onto the road that we once traveled. And there will be bumps along the way. But I for one, wouldn’t want to be doing it in any other country in the world.

Through The Counselling Door

Bringing things closer to home. It is this same sense of optimism and hope, that I see and listen to everyday when I am with a client.

No matter how much pain and despair that a person may be feeling. There is something deep inside of them, a fire that burns, that believes that things can be different!

And it is I believe, that fire of optimism and hope that fuels each and every one of us to try. To pick ourselves up after pain. To not stop. To hopefully be able to see how we have been hurting ourselves, or have been hurt. And to wish for something different.

To do something different, and to get different results!

On this day, we are full of optimism and hope. Let us all remember this day when the going gets tough. Because it will. But it is in overcoming difficult moments, that we are all brought closer together. It is what unites us.

Let the spirit of optimism and hope burn bright within you. And never stop believing that things can be different. We can all be living proof, each and every day.


Perception Is Key!

Perception Is All

A professor once said, “perception is all“. How prophetic a statement that was at the time! I didn’t realize the importance of that statement until many years later. You see, the professor in question was a marketing professor, and how true it is that, it is not the truth of what the product in question will do or deliver, but the perception of what it will do in the consumer’s mind.


How this can impact us in our daily life is quite important I believe, especially as it affects our relationships. So often in discussing matters, one can get lost or preoccupied in trying to prove the “truth” of matters to our partner.

It brings to mind that old expression:

Do you want to be right or be happy?

Or better yet:

Do you want to be right AND be alone?

So often there is no one “right” way or approach. For example, what is the best vegetable that one can eat in terms of nutrition? I suppose that one can conduct tests and make measurements and spell it all out and do extensive comparisons. But in the end, it might all come down to which particular vitamin or nutrient that one was focused upon or wanted to accentuate.

We may even manage to come up with a particular vegetable which seems to offer the most nutritional value on a broad selection of criteria, but is it THE most nutritionally dense vegetable on the planet? Is the most nutritionally dense food even a vegetable? How do we know for sure? It may even turn out to be a liquid!

In the absence of absolute, scientifically-backed, irrefutable evidence, we are left with our informed “perceptions” of what may be one of the most highly dense foods on the planet. In such a case, it might also be wise to leave ourselves open to being pleasantly surprised by some new finding coming our way.

But in romantic relationships, and in our daily lives, we may be better suited in stating that, “according to my own findings and perceptions, here is what I think is the answer”. This leaves a lot of room for discussion, and more importantly, respecting the perceptions of those around us.

In the end, do we want to spend our time and energy “proving” that we are right? Bearing in mind that this would make our partner wrong And nobody really likes being wrong for any extended period of time I think. Or do we want to spend our time and energy getting closer to each other?

Maybe the true usefulness of this perspective might be, that the next time we are involved in a heated discussion, we may allow each party to bow out gracefully by saying that “from my perspective” this is how things “appear” to me.

Respecting each other’s differences. Quite possibly the subject of another article down the road! :)




Nanaimo Counselling

Nanaimo Counselling Services Now Being Offered!


I am very pleased to be able to begin offering counselling services in the Nanaimo area. Recently having moved here from Victoria, I am eager to offer my services to help you get through whatever is ailing you.

My areas of expertise range from individual counselling covering a host of many issues such as:

  • stress
  • anxiety
  • depression
  • grief
  • life challenges

I also welcome the opportunity to assist people who are undergoing relationship challenges and require couples counselling.

My overall goal would be to offer support as you work your way to greater and fuller health and well-being in all areas of your life.

I look forward to helping you get your life back on track, and beginning our journey together.

I also welcome contact from fellow practitioners, whether it be to offer mutual support or look at new opportunities.

Be well



Communication Tip #2: Taking Turns Talking AND Listening!

 Taking Turns: Talking AND Listening

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

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

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.

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!

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

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.

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.





Communication 101: Part 2

What Can Computers Teach Humans About Communication?

Communication in a perfect world might look something like this:

Humans might take it upon themselves, to borrow from the information transmission system employed by computers. Imagine that the example below mimics the process that two computers would go through to exchange ONE piece of information!

  • Person A feels a need to communicate something to Person B
  • Person A encodes his thoughts, emotions and impulses into words that they think Person B is likely to understand
  • Person A opens up a channel of communication with Person B by getting their attention, and checking in to see if they are receptive to receiving A’s message.
  • Person A then speaks his words sending them in the direction of Person B.
  • Person B is attentive and tuned into Person A, wishing and wanting to receive A’s message as best as they are able to. Person B may also block out any unwanted sensory information so as to be able to better receive A’s message.
  • Person B receives (hears) every word and non-verbal signal and interprets their meaning exactly the way A wishes them to be understood.
  • Person B makes a concise and relevant summary of what he received (heard) and interpreted from Person A and repeats it for confirmation.
  • Person A responds and validates that the information received is exactly what had been transmitted, and was interpreted exactly as A had wished.
  • There is a pause, Person A is deciding whether to transmit more information while observing whether Person B is about to speak or is in listening mode.

Possible Theoretical Exchange
(Husband To Wife)

– I want to tell her that I’m hungry……
– “Excuse me, but I have something that I would like to share with you”
– “I’m hungry!”  (including raised tone of voice and arms waving in air)

– The other turns their full attention to the first person. Other turns off TV
and asks children to be quiet as their father is making a major pronouncement.
– The other believes that they have heard the first person say “I’m hungry” and
has also recorded an elevated tone of voice and gesticulations with arms.

– The other then summarizes what they heard and speaks it back to him ensuring
that she has his attention. “I heard you say that you are hungry! Is that correct?”
(Please note addition of exclamation mark to denote that the urgency or
importance of the message was properly received with emotional signals
registered as well as the accompanying non-verbal gestures to add emphasis)

– The first person then replies back, while possibly smiling, “yes that is exactly what I said!”(Please note additional exclamation mark indicating first person’s pleasure at having had
his message successfully received)

– There is a pause while the second person attempts to figure out why the first person is
informing them of their hungered state. Second person may begin to wonder whether
the first person is incapable or knowing what to do to address said state. Or they may even assume that the first person is informing them of their hungered state so that they may

remedy the situation for them.

Second goes through many possible interpretations and reasons for why the first might have provided this information at this exact time during their favourite television program. Second person checks in with their emotional guidance system and finds the subroutine for annoyance running. Second person overrides helpfulness routine in favour or annoyance subroutine and replies.

– “Do I look like your mother? You know where the fridge is! I’m in the middle of my
favourite show here!”

– First person terminates wishing- to- share- a- part- of- myself- with- my- beloved routine
and begins to choose among the following candidates: frustration, self-righteousness,
anger as well as guilting subroutines.

–  Dinner is served much later to the sound of accompanying silence.

 The Alternative

Hopefully your interactions aren’t like this fictitious one! But the point is that there
is a LOT to sharing a piece of ourselves with our partners in the hope of being well
received. Transmitting our messages accurately, and in a manner that they will be
well received and not falsely interpreted can be at times nerve-wracking when stress is high and many things consume us in our daily lives.

This is a very small snippet of communication, much less a “conversation”. Although because of possible lack of awareness of message receptivity levels amongst many other factors, what could have been a conversation stopped with a screeching halt. The example is small and insignificant and largely unlikely in most home discussions, however I believe that the utility of it goes to show a small slice of the possible iceberg that may be underlying our conversations on a day to day basis.

Assess for message receptivity before starting off. Not just a willingness to listen, but draw upon past experiences and interactions and knowledge of our partners to determine an approach that has a greater likelihood of success for both parties.

“Honey, I know you’re deep into your program, but would you let me take you out to that new Italian place that you’ve been wanting to try?”

TV is turned off. Wife grabs coat and is waiting for husband to get going by the door.

For more articles on Communication, click here for Communication Tip #1!

Communication 101: When A Tree Isn’t What It Seems!?

Is Poor Communication A Problem?

Butting heads

On some level, a long term relationship can be equated to one very long conversation between two people. Communication is of the essence. One goes into relationship hoping for the best, but all too often the “conversation” that we experience is fraught with static and disconnection.

What happens to our good intentions? Why is it so hard to be understood and to understand our partners on an ongoing and consistent basis? Why is it instead of creating a beautiful harmonious “conversation”, our relationships sometimes look more like some broken down game of telephone that we used to play as kids?

There are probably a lot of reasons, too many to number here, but one of them might be in front of our mutual noses. A Marketing professor once told our class something that has stayed with me. He said “Perception is all!

Three words that someone might gloss over quickly. But I believe they lie at the heart of our disconnecting, and can lead to so much unnecessary pain and suffering if not properly understood. Combine this with our sometimes unconscious desire to try and prove that we are “right”, and that God help our loving partners but they are “wrong”, and we set in motion the beginnings of a tidal wave of misunderstandings, judgments,  and frustrating arguments. And we ourselves may be dismayed at how our partners could be anything but grateful for our attempts to enlighten them and show them the error of their ways!

{ Insert sound of balloon popping here ………. }

Instead what usually happens is an argument, and a distancing while each partner argues their case. What a moment ago was a loving relationship, now seems like a court of law, if not a battlefield with both parties taking no prisoners!

There is another way!

And it involves making a shift towards sharing perceptions with each other instead of trying to prove what’s right or wrong. I remember a scientist commenting on how difficult it is to prove the “absolute” proof of something. And I suspect that the great majority of us are not anywhere near up to the task of proving absolute truth. A little humility may end up serving us all well in the end.

“But I’m right!  I know I’m right!”   Shall we continue?

We come to our relationships each with our own set of beliefs, values and experiences that colour how we see, think and feel. How else could two sane intelligent people argue in favour of a glass being half “full” of water, while their beloved argues that the same glass is really half “empty”. All of our combined experiences have led us to reach our individual perceptions and conclusions on the status of the glass of water. The glass in itself just is. But as Shakespeare said so well many years ago, “There is nothing either good or bad, but  thinking makes it so“.

Now this is where I think that differences in perception, cause all kinds of problems and misunderstandings in relationships.

The Experiment!

Here is a fun and quick little experiment that you can try out with your partner.

Ask them is they would be willing to play a game with you. Then say that you would like both of you to imagine a “tree” in your mind. Also tell them to keep the type of tree and it’s characteristics secret until you are ready.

Once you both have a “tree” in your mind, then take turns telling each other what type of “tree” that you imagined. If you both name the same type of “tree” ( and this will be very unlikely from my experience ), then ask questions about the characteristics of each other’s “tree”. (e.g. how tall is it?  does it have leaves? what colour are they?).

The Results And What Does It Mean?

The chances are great that from the beginning both of you will likely be thinking of a totally different type of “tree”!

Now why is this important???

Because each day in conversation we use 100’s and 1,000’s of words with each other and presume that we are not only on the same page, but that we are thinking and imagining the same thing! Now most of us would not be overly concerned about a discrepancy in the type of tree that our partner was referring to ….. unless of course it were the one where they had buried the lottery winnings under!

Relevance To Everyday Life And Our Dreams / Visions

Sending and receiving image of tree

However we use words together that are a LOT more complicated than “tree”! We use words like “Love”, “Honesty”, “Trust”, “Commitment” which are many times more complicated and likely to have us thinking different things than our partner is thinking.

Instead of defending our views as the “truth”, imagine what things could be like if you could allow that you were both coming from your “own individual perspectives“!


Might we then adopt a perspective of curiosity and inquiry, as we seek to understand where our partner is coming from, instead of trying to prove each other wrong or ourselves right?

What does your “Tree” look like?

 To read Part 2 of this article on Communication 101, click here!