I enjoy reading, researching, and learning why people think, act, and behave the way they do. It’s an itch that never get’s the satisfaction of getting fully scratched! So in my attempt to scratch an itch regarding relationships, I’ve discovered that one of the keys to success is to have open, honest, and clear communication with our significant others, co-workers, families, friends, and neighbors. We need to use channel 2 listening, challenge our own thinking, be open to sharing our deep thoughts and feelings, and to be open to hearing differing opinions.
So many of our woes in relationships are caused by our interactions within a relationship. Do we ever stop to think: What role did I play when communication went sideways? Did I allow my emotions to narrow my thinking and to slap my blinders on or even steal my intelligence? Did I make assumptions? And if I did, did I gain clarification that I really understood the other person’s perspective? Was I able to remove bias and past history from the conversation? Did I react with silence or verbal shots to state my displeasure with the other person? Okay, I’ll stop…you get the point!
After you read this quote by John Wallen regarding communication; please take a moment to let his message wash over you and consider the meaning behind his words. When I read this in context with some deep learning about effective relationships it really challenged my thinking.
“We judge ourselves by our intentions. We judge others by their impact.”
This quote shook my understanding of the effect our communication has on others to its foundation. We judge another’s communication by the impact it has on us. We judge our communication by the intention of what we believe we conveyed. Wow!
To own that we create the impact we have on others is a huge paradigm shift for most of us. Judging another’s impact and our intention is like comparing apples to oranges. Both are pieces of fruit but they are very different. We need to accept that we create our interpretations, attributions, and feelings while communicating; they belong to us and reside inside of us – not others.
If we truly care about the people in our lives we owe it to them to get better at managing conflict and difficult conversations. I am guilty of not being so great at this. I have a tendency to allow emotion to narrow my thinking, not gain clarity of the other’s perspective, making assumptions based on past interactions, and to revert to silence so that I don’t say something I might regret. I vow today to make a continuous effort to improve in this area!
We all have both automatic and learned responses when we communicate with others. We need to be self aware of our defenses and recognize that some of the ways we learned to communicate when we were young no longer serve us well as adults. The more we can recognize how our past influences our present, the more we can experience the here and now and make real improvements to our communication.