Communication – listening and talking is a skill to develop
The biggest superpower we have as humans is our ability to communicate – both talking and listening – and very few of us are taught how to do this.
My husband often quotes the saying, we have two ears, one mouth – use accordingly.
In other words, listen twice as much as talking. I love this saying, it is so true. I have learnt so much more from listening, than talking.
Firstly – When you need to have a conversation that is important and contains a level of gravity – then negotiate a good time.
Timing is everything, and giving the person a warning, that we need to talk about something important will set the scene for it to be constructive. Trying to talk to someone who is distracted or tired – will not lead to successful communication.
Secondly – set the intention up front. Let this person know what you need from this conversation. “I just need you to listen, or not try to solve it, or feel responsible, or worry about me, or take this personally, or respond just yet, or I’m just going to vent.” This level of clarity can immediately help the listener to be clear on what their role is.
Thirdly – Talk from a place of ownership – be responsible for your part in the dispute. This is so powerful when creating change. Let me give you a great metaphor.
The tango, you know the dance. Each person has their role in the dance. If you don’t like the dance, change your step – and watch the dance change.
Sometimes you both trip and fall on the floor, which can be the catalyst for talking through how we got here.
Or they duck out of the dance and watch the you dance the new step.
Or they fall into sync with your new dance step. (My husband has done this a lot, and he hasn’t even realised😊)
Change the steps, change the dance. We tend to think we need to change the other person, but you can’t change another person – you can only change yourself. We are so much more powerful in changing relationships than we think.
So if you are the speaker, the one bringing up an issue
- Start with the word I. I feel, I need, I struggle with, I’m confused….
When we use the word You….you did, you make me feel, you always, you are – you are no longer owning your part but projecting onto the other person – and that will mostly lead to defence systems being triggered, shutting down, big fat arguments, and a pile of projections coming right back at ya. This goes nowhere and no one wins, in fact it can create a lot of damage that will need repairing down the track – and leads to zero intimacy.
If you are the listener – really seek to understand. Very few people know how to listen well. They are more likely constructing in their heads – what they want to say next. Make a deal with yourself, that you will just listen, be present, and keep your mind focused on the talker, and what it is they are trying to say.
- Ask questions like.
What’s on your mind? And what else? Is there anymore? VENT
What is the most important part of this conversation for you? Or What’s the real challenge here for you? What do you really need from this situation? This creates clarity.
So how can I help? What do you need from me? Tell me what support looks like for you? Your role is now clarified.
Do not feel the need to mount a defence, find a solution or have the answers. Just listen. Your turn can come later if needed, one person at a time. This approach clears the emotion and clutter of the mind and helps get to the key issue that needs changing.
- Sometimes we need to Create space for perspective to arrive – maybe you sleep on it, or have a few days to think through things.
Practicing these skills can create some much more connection and understanding – and ultimately intimacy. It really is a superpower.
Peter and I have practiced these skills over the years, sometimes getting it right and sometimes getting it wrong. We now read each other like a book. There isn’t anything I can’t tell him or him – to me. We are often amazed that we have made it this far, and still really enjoy our marriage.
Get skilled and enjoy those precious relationships,