Want to learn 3 simple communications goals that will significantly improve your interpersonal relationship satisfaction and success right now?
1 “Seek to understand.” If we keep clarification in mind as we enter into difficult conversations, it will help us reduce avoidance – one of the apocalyptic mistakes people make in relationships. Many clients say “I don’t like conflict.” Or “I don’t want to get into it, so I’ll just let it go or forget about it.” But that’s where we go wrong! We need to remember we can seek clarification instead of feeling like we’re entering into a conflictual conversation.
What if our first goal was to deepen our understanding of the other person’s perspective?
What if our goal was to really hear what someone else was trying to say rather than feel determined to make our point known?
What if we weren’t looking to prove we were right, but open up a non-threatening conversation to deepen our understanding of the situation or perspectives at hand. We must understand that everyone has the right to their own perspective. Each person’s perception of a situation is right to them. And they are allowed to see it and feel it from their point of view – based on their understanding, their personal history and their fears or triggers. If we enter into a conversation with the intention of proving we are right, we’ll get it wrong every time!
2. “Are you available?” What if we asked this question before we engaged in conversations that were tricky to navigate or ones the require full presence and engagement? No one likes to feel blindsided or ambushed by a conversation that might be hard to have.
When we ask “are you available – or is this a good time?” we are essentially saying we would like someone’s full attention and presence, but if now isn’t a good time for whatever reason, it gives that person the chance to feel mentally and emotionally ready to have that conversation later.
I also love this question because it sets a respectful tone out of the gates. “Are you available?” suggests that this is important to you, but you honor the other person and their right to determine when to have a hard conversation instead of exploding, dumping, ambushing or pouncing on them without their consent or readiness.
3. “Reflective listening and validation.” I can’t emphasize this enough! Everyone wants to be heard! When someone is sharing something important with you, before you respond with your own thought or comment back, try to use reflective listening and validation so they know they’ve been heard and seen.
Reflective listening is simply a way the ‘receiver’ can check in with the ‘sender’ to be sure they got it all.
The sender sends their message and the receiver says “So, I hear you say……x, y, z. Is that correct? Was that everything? Is there more?” The second part of this is validation. The receiver would hear the senders message and then simply use validation statements like “sounds like that made you feel really (fill in the blank – hurt/unseen/sad/angry/upset/invisible).”
When we empathize with the senders message, we feel less victimized by the conversation. When we listen reflectively and validate, we humanize the person we’re communicating with and increase the odds of resolving the issue in a more loving, kind and compassionate way.