Of course, there is more to improving our relationship skills than several bullet-points in a blog post, but here are some useful tips you can practice next time you’re relating with someone, which is most likely every day.
Let us know how they work for you, by leaving a comment or by writing an email. We’d love to hear your experience.
The 7 Keys
#1 Drop The Baggage
Sounds easier than it is. But this one is simply about getting present with each other. Often we enter into a relational field with someone bringing with us all of our ideas, judgements and preconceptions about the other. Putting them into a preconcieved box and limiting the potential of that interaction from the get go.
It helps to approach each new interaction with fresh eyes. Forget about your past and thier past. Practice seeing the person in front of you as if you’ve just met them. You’ll be surprised how alive and vibrant an interaction can be if you’re able to appraoch it this way.
It takes practice, but it’s a valuable tool for fulfilling future relationships and current ones.
#2 Mining The Gold
Imagine the person you’re talking to is about to drop a precious gold nugget out of thier mouth. The idea here is that every interaction we have is in some way ‘meant to be.’ There’s a good reason why we’re having this particluar interaction with this particular person. Some mystical exchange is taking place. Perhaps the person you’re talking to is holding a key piece of the puzzle you’re working on. Sometimes the most profound wisdom is uttered by fools. If you listen actively for the gold in each conversation, you will notice yourself giving more respect and attention to the other. People thrive on that kind of presence.
Try it out and see the richness it brings your connections. Event the mundance small talk, chit-chat can turn into a synchronistic jewel.
#3 Stay Curious
Let’s be honest, your partner is a pretty special person to you. Otherwise, you wouldn’t have chosen to be with them. You were likely drawn to qualities in them that made them intriguing. Being intimate with someone means staying interested and ever-curious about who they are and how they think.
This kind of curiosity and interest can be applied during communication too. While it may be tough to do during a fight, you can take some time afterward to connect with your partner and objectively explore the choices they made and allow them to explore your thought process as well.
Sometimes exploring how communication devolved can navigate your choices the next time you two talk.
#4 Practice Empathy
One of the earliest lessons that we learn growing up is to “put yourself in someone else’s shoes” because it introduced you to the concept of empathy.
Empathy is about more than just acknowledging someone’s feelings. It’s also about trying to understand how those feelings are influencing their actions.
It’s easy to lose sight of empathy in the heat of an argument because your partner’s point of view stands in the way of yours. If you could only make them see it your way, then the argument would be over. Right?
True empathy is about feeling where the other is coming from, not guessing, or assuming, but actually feeling it. You can sense their energetic field and develop a sensitive attunement to their state of being.
It’s not an easy task, often it requires that we’re first in touch with our own state of being, so it helps to be in a calm meditative space when practicing this one. And be patient, this level of empathy takes time to master.
#5 Read Between The Lines
“It can be difficult to identify what is underneath the surface of arguments about ‘trivial’ things,” explains Dr. Elana Hoffman, a licensed clinical psychologist in Washington, D.C.
Most of these arguments are actually about an unmet need, which is often that one or both people feel like they are not being taken care of in some way… In order to help identify what’s happening under the surface, couples need to think deeply about what they are really asking for, and communicate that.
If you have an inkling that there is really something else going on, as opposed to what is being said, then take a moment to ask some artful questions. Inquire into the situation gently and with curiosity. Trust your intuition and explore what the truth is together.
Ultimately, relationships can be a powerful tool for developing self-awareness and for revealing the deeper truths about ourselves.
#6 Know When To Yield
One of the hardest things to do during a conflict is to stop and redirect the focus. We’ve all said the wrong thing that we wished we could take back after we weren’t so angry.
Have you ever drafted a “strongly worded” email to a colleague in frustration, but after calming down, took some of the venom out of it before hitting the “Send” button?
Being able to brake, downshift, and reassess your feelings is a good way to maintain healthy social connections, so why shouldn’t you apply it to your romantic relationships, too?
If you’re in an argument with your partner that seems to be getting a little too heated, see if there’s an opportunity to hit pause, go for a walk, and revisit the issue once both of you have had a chance to breathe.
#7 Don’t Make Assumptions – Seek Clarity
Our brain is wired to constantly make judgments and conclusions based on “signs” we’re reading around us every day.
Think: When a coworker or client doesn’t laugh at your joke (maybe they’re upset with you?) or a friend responds with an “ok” to your text (is it something you said?).
The truth is, we have no idea why other people respond the way they do because we don’t have immediate insight inside their brain (i.e. we’re not mind-readers!).
Seek clarity Our culture doesn’t always make it easy to ask questions. Sometimes it feels safer to stay quiet and create our own assumptions. Yet, by simply communicating, gathering more information, and checking if your conclusion is correct, you’re avoiding a world of pain and anguish within your interactions.
Thanks for reading. And, remember: There is no right way to be in a relationship. Keep learning, evolving, growing and trusting. Life is love and love is life. ????