This is a guest post by Steve Rice of Karmic Kappuccino.
I once heard it said that the quality of our lives depends on the quality of our relationships. This is true in professional and personal arenas.
It has also been said that relationships are hard. The truth is that most of us go through life fairly unconsciously. We know relationships are important to our quality of life, but when it comes to the important relationships in our lives, many of us “wing it.”
We rely on habits of communication that we have learned from our family and society. But where did these outside influences learn the behaviors which they have passed on to us? Generally from their family and social network.
This is the reason that people, families and even nations perpetuate dysfunctional, destructive and counter productive habit patterns.
Let’s focus on communication for this post. How can we interrupt this cycle of unconsciousness when it comes to our communication habits in our relationships?
1. Pay Attention
This may seem self-evident, but most don’t do it. Pay attention to the communication habits you have developed through life.
- Where have they come from?
- Identify your patterns.
When facing a challenging relationship situation, do you shut down or do you intensify the conflict by going on the offense? Awareness is the first step.
If you become aware of your behavior, you are empowered to recognize it when it happens. Recognition is the first step toward deciding to take a different action.
2. Educate Yourself
This is a difficult step, not because it’s technically difficult but because most people will not do it. Studies have shown that learning new communication techniques can greatly improve one’s chances at having a successful and fulfilling relationship.
Spend your energy and focus learning the pitfalls of communication in relationship. Learn new and better ways of interacting with others. You will benefit from learning new skills, but will also gain confidence when dealing with others because you will be able to understand what is going on with them.
Instead of taking things personally, you will recognize fear, insecurity and pain for what they are. Instead of engaging the drama and escalating it, you will be calm and will be able to resolve conflict more effectively.
3. Develop a “Common Language”
This is the most practical step. Once you have gained a basic education of communication patterns and human behavior it is vital to develop a “language” of communication within your relationships (personal or professional).
By “common language,” I mean a set of techniques that both parties in the relationship understand and abide by. The techniques of this “language” can be part of your education process, but it is absolutely necessary to learn to apply these techniques within the relationship.
It is important to use a technique that slows down the conversation in a manner that both parties within the relationship have a safe structure within which to be heard. When we are able to hear and be heard, it is amazing how many misconceptions and misunderstandings we find.
Only when we really hear each other, can we hope to resolve conflict.
Would love to hear your experiences thoughts and comments, but first, please share on Facebook and Twitter.
Steve Rice is the author of the new book, An Imperceptible Spark: Finding the Courage to Live a Life of Joy. He blogs at Karmic Kappuccino and is a trained relationship enhancement coach, as well as, a speaker and writer.