Archive for October, 2010

6
Oct


From Ann Landers to Oprah, everyone’s always urging us to communicate with our loved ones. But if you think that the main goal of communication is getting the other person to understand you, you’re probably feeling disappointed with the results.

Just about everyone wants to feel more understood. But if both partners in a conversation are working hard to be understood, who’s left to do the understanding?

In a troubled relationship, mates worry that they won’t get their turn to speak or to explain themselves. Thus, they verbally push and shove, cutting each other off, insisting the other person listen to them. If someone didn’t get enough listening as a child, the reminder of this in adulthood makes things even more difficult.

Relationships work so much better when both people know they’ll each get a turn to speak regardless of who goes first. It’s easier to listen when you trust that your mate wants to understand you. And the sooner your partner feels understood, the sooner s/he will be ready to work hard to understand you.

How do you pursue understanding your mate?

• Don’t try to make your mate feel better right away.

• Ask how s/he feels, and keep asking until you understand.

• When you think you know, tell your mate how you think s/he feels.

• If you’re not completely right, ask for more information. If you are, ask what your mate wants.

• Don’t try to fix your mate’s problem unless you’re specifically asked.

Understanding others doesn’t mean agreeing with them or giving them what they want. Conveying that you understand simply puts the two of you in the best possible position to discover your actual differences (as opposed to the differences you think you have), as well as the interests you have in common. Then you can resolve those differences as easily as possible.

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