Life, Love, and Perception – “Did they just say that?!?!”
Lifestyle website YourTango.com polled 100 mental health professionals and found that communication problems was cited as the most common factor that leads to divorce (65 percent), followed by couples' inability to resolve conflict (43 percent)1. How you communicate something is much more important to a healthy relationship than what you say. The manner in which we say something matters. Perception is key!
Have you heard the saying, “Everything I needed to know, I learned in Kindergarten”? Manners are reinforced, kindness is king, and including others is of utmost importance. We even learned about apologizing and playing fairly. Relationships and communicating in a healthy fashion seem to grow in complexity as we enter adulthood.
Communication Quotes – Which do you identify with?
Wise men speak because they have something to say; Fools because they have to say something. Plato
You can change your world by changing your words... Remember, death and life are in the power of the tongue. Joel Osteen To effectively communicate, we must realize that we are all different in the way we perceive the world and use this understanding as a guide to our communication with others. Tony Robbins2
Practice makes perfect…ish. We can listen to every podcast and read every book on relationships, but the biggest step is practice. It isn’t magic…it won’t click the first time out, but each time we practice a healthier approach, it becomes easier. We create new neuropathways in our brains as we learn something new, but we establish those pathways by walking that path over and over until it is becoming a well-worn road. It becomes our automatic with practice. It may feel strange and different the first several times but keep going…it works!
"Steps to Practice for Healthier Communication"
Step 1: Focus on the other person’s words, but also the heart behind their words. Why are they really concerned, hurt, frustrated, etc.? Listen, don’t refute them in your head while they speak. When we pause to really listen, then we drop our agenda and can truly hear.
Step 2: Repeat back to them what you heard.
“So you are saying, you are upset because supper isn’t ready, and you had to skip lunch?”
“You want me to help you outside because you are tired and want some company?”
What ever it is, when we repeat it back to the other person, they can feel validated and heard. Just this one step can stave off an argument.
Step 3: Now, calmly, share your perspective and why. If after hearing the other person out, you find yourself agreeing, just agree. Every now and then the other person may be right. (UGH!)
Or, explain your side. Remember “A gentle answer deflects anger, but harsh words make tempers flare.” (Proverbs 15:1 NLT)
I have had to remember this many times and as I softened my approach, over and over again, the other person (lots of them) softened too.
Step 4: Time. Sometimes we have to give it time. We all need time to process. We may have to table the discussion until both sides have had time to digest the information and process all the details. Oftentimes when we step away from a conversation or situation, we see the big picture much more clearly.
Step 5: Remember the other person is not our enemy. We all have sensitive areas and can react to certain situations more than others. Grace covers where we can fail.
Bonus!!! Discussions are rarely successful when one or both people are hungry or tired. If someone is working through something emotional, it may not be the best time either. Choose your words and your timing wisely to create healthier conversations.
Lastly, sometimes including someone as a “wise counsel” helps us to work through situations as well. All through history, people and cultures have sought counsel from wise individuals. Whether that is a counselor, pastor, or mentor, those who are wise will seek the wise.