Tag Archive | inner wisdom

Eliminate the Number One Relationship Killer

Communication is an important part, if not the most important part, of any relationship. The way you communicate has a major impact on your ability to get along with the various people in your life – spouses, children, coworkers, friends, and neighbors. When communication breaks down, relationships suffer. According to recent research, poor communication is the number one reason why couples (and friendships) break up.

Any relationship worth having experiences conflict at some point. The conflict isn’t the problem (conflict is a natural part of intimacy), how the situation is handled is the determining factor in whether the relationship will deepen or be torn apart.

Interpersonal communication styles are developed from life experiences. Your responses are often so automatic that it’s easy to fall into the trap of using ineffective communication. Being an effective communicator requires some work; it requires being mindful about your style and being honest about your role in the conversation. As George Bernard Shaw stated, “The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.”

While there is a long list of behaviors that lead to ineffective communication, below are a few that may be the biggest culprits. Do you see yourself in any of these scenarios?

Making Assumptions
A big mistake that can shut down communication is when one person makes an assumption about what another person has said or done. You’ve heard the old saying, when you assume, you make an “ass” out of “u” and “me”. While corny, the saying holds true. Assuming is a prescription for trouble.

Recently, I heard a story about one friend who blocked another friend on Facebook because she assumed the person made a post about her. Without discussing it, making her feelings known, and hearing what the other person had to say, she accused, tried and convicted the person, all the time the accused had no idea why she was being sentenced. This person offers more courtesy to someone in the judicial system (innocent until proven guilty) than she did to someone she “cared” about. This is an example of what happens when we assume to know a situation or create our own version of it instead of finding out the truth.

As Miguel Ruiz wrote in The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom, “If others tell us something we make assumptions, and if they don’t tell us something we make assumptions to fulfill our need to know and to replace the need to communicate. Even if we hear something and we don’t understand we make assumptions about what it means and then believe the assumptions. We make all sorts of assumptions because we don’t have the courage to ask questions.”

More times than not, nothing people say or do is about you. When you remove the assumption that something is about you, you stop taking it personally and open the door for honest communication.

Projecting
Projection involves projecting undesirable feelings or emotions onto someone else, rather than admitting to or dealing with the unwanted feelings. When you project your feelings onto another person, you give your voice to the other person and create a scenario that may not actually exist.

For example, if you have done something to a friend for which you feel guilty, your friend may not agree with your feelings or be upset with you, but you project your guilt onto that person and then believe he or she is angry at you. Anything that person says or does leads you to believe he or she is acting from a place of anger and you respond to the imaginary situation. This is a distorted vision of reality that will undoubtedly create a communication issue.

Mental Telepathy
How often do you believe someone should know what you are thinking or what you want or need without telling him or her? This is a common complaint when discussing communication issues – the expectation that he should have known. How could someone know what you want if you don’t tell her? Stop expecting and start stating!

Keeping Feelings to Yourself
Do you believe that it is better to keep your mouth shut and avoid conflict? Keeping things bottled up inside is not the way to develop or sustain a loving relationship. If you have something to say, say it. Effective communicating means just that … to communicate. I pride myself on my ability to let people know how I feel. Friends and loved ones may not necessarily like to hear my expressions, but like it or not, no one can ever say that I didn’t communicate my feelings. Open communication also shows that you love and respect someone enough to trust them with your deepest thoughts.

Just as important, if you have something good to say about your partner, say it often. Praise and appreciation are usually unspoken and they go a long way in cultivating a relationship.

Good Listening
In addition to discussing your feelings, you must have the ability to enable others to talk about theirs. Stop worrying about what you are going to say next and listen to what is being said to you. Listening, empathizing and sympathizing are skills that can strengthen a relationship. Really hearing what someone says and then being able to put yourself in his or her shoes may create an understanding that can diffuse any situation.

Own Up to Your Part
Two of the most powerful words are “I’m sorry” and yet so many people have trouble saying them. Admitting the error of your ways does not make you weak, to the contrary, it shows your strength. People twist stories, shout louder, and reject others simply because they can’t admit they are wrong. Don’t be one of those people.

The importance of effective communication becomes obvious when you see all the ways ineffective communication can harm a relationship. Taking the time to recognize your style and improve your interpersonal skills is definitely worth the effort. As Anthony Robbins said, “The way we communicate with others and with ourselves ultimately determines the quality of our lives.”

Say What You Mean and Mean What You Say

How many times has someone told you that he or she was going to do something and then it never materialized? How many times have you promised something to another only to let that person down?

Promises are powerful. They are given to fulfill a need of another. When someone makes a promise it is usually made with the best of intentions and in that moment, the person believes that he or she will be able to complete the offer. Then the person goes off like a busy little bee, involved in the tasks of daily life, and his or her words become a distant memory.

The problem is that the recipient of a promise remembers every word said. Often, spoken words are a life jacket to a drowning person and that person clings to them for survival.

After my mother and sister passed away (my last two remaining nuclear family members) and my divorce became final, a few people told me that I would never be alone, that I was a member of their “family”; I was their sister. Surviving unimaginable grief, I clung to those words as a source of comfort. Then, as time passed, holidays came and went, special occasions were celebrated – graduations, birthdays – and no offer of inclusion was made.

My story is just one example of the many letdowns people experience. What about a child who is promised your attendance at a dance recital or sporting event? A boss that is guaranteed a completed task? A friend that is offered help with a problem?

Heartbreak and disappointment are the result of empty words and offers made in haste, even with the best of intentions.

The next time you are about to make a promise think about what you are going to offer. Take time to reflect before you state it. Weigh the pros and cons and examine your life situation to be sure you can fulfill your end of the deal. Think about the long-term ramifications.

Be honest about your capabilities. Stop being a “yes” person or “the big man on campus”. You can’t please everyone and it’s much better to do nothing or say you can’t do something than offer an empty promise.

Examine your motivation for making the offer. Are you trying to make someone feel better for the moment? Do you want to be liked? Are you trying to gain something for yourself?

Remember that your words may only be words to you but to another they can mean the world. If you’re not sure that you can fulfill a promise, then don’t say anything. Adopt the rule in life to say what you mean and mean what you say.

Do You Want To Be Great?

I recently heard about the passing of a man to whom I was introduced to a few years ago. We met when I had just created the CYACYL brand and I was unsure about how I would proceed. He had media experience and professional contacts and offered advice and support. He even introduced me to a few people that later went on to become guests of the show.

I was not what one would consider to be a close friend of this man and our contact was limited to sporadic phone calls or periodic emails and Facebook messages, but when we were in communication, he always made me feel like I could accomplish anything. His words were so kind and reassuring and he had such a gentle nature about him that one couldn’t help but be drawn to him.

When I heard that he passed away, and at a young age, I was heartbroken. I couldn’t understand why his death had such a deep impact on me, after all, we weren’t particularly close. Then I realized that he approached life with love and kindness and an open heart. He would do anything he could to help another person, even an acquaintance. He looked for the upside of life and really seemed to savor the moment. He was grateful for what he had and treasured his family and friends. Even during his physical challenges and progressing illness, he was faithful to God. Every time I was around him, even briefly, I left a better person. He made me feel special. I would miss that.

Perhaps Maya Angelou summed it up best when she said, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

Often we touch others in ways we will never know. A smile, an extended hand, a kind word or gesture, support, an invitation. Simple things in life, that we take for granted, that can mean the world to someone else.

We all have tremendous power over one another. Our words and actions can reinforce the courage to press on or provide one more reason to give up. We can extinguish the flame of pain and suffering or be the one to add another log to the fire. We can offer light in a time of darkness or build another layer to a wall of isolation.

When your life comes to an end, how do you want to be remembered? Me? I want to be remembered as being GREAT because as Mark Twain said, “Really GREAT people make you feel that you, too, can become great.

Follow Your Intuition…It Knows the Way

Throughout the last four years, my professional life has taken many twists and turns. There are times that I operate by the seat of my pants learning as I go along, praying for the best possible outcome, following my intuition and my heart.

Recently I began to work with a person that was assigned to my company’s account. From the moment I met him, my entire body screamed, “be careful!” There was something about him that told me not to be too trusting. All the warning signs were there – my intuition was on the job.

Now I’m the type of person who wants to trust everyone and I usually give people the benefit of the doubt many, many, many times. I want to believe that others have the same agenda and motives so I push my inner guidance aside.

This person dangled golden opportunities in front of me; he offered me more than I could have imagined – everything I wanted. It would be easy for me to get caught up in his promises. But there was always that nagging feeling inside of me.  Something didn’t add up. There was never a straight answer to my questions, always a tap dance.

After our first meeting, I couldn’t sleep for a few nights. Even though I was excited about what was to come, I felt sick every time I recounted the possible opportunities to my friends. My body tightened and sometimes I actually shook. My nerves were on end.

But because he was answering my prayers (or so I thought at the time), I pushed the warning signs aside and worked with him. I took what he said and turned it into what I wanted to hear, what I wanted him to say.  But there was always that nagging feeling inside of me.

As time passed, he began to request more and more from my company in return for the promised opportunities, which by the way, never materialized. I finally decided to listen to my inner guidance, which was SCREAMING by this time, and I called him out. Once I stopped taking what he said at face value and held my ground, all the promises immediately disappeared. He showed his true colors.

It took months of anxious moments and many sleepless nights before I found the courage to follow, what I knew from the beginning, to be the right direction. I knew all along what was right for me; I just chose not to listen. Thankfully I found the courage.

Does this story sound familiar? How many times do you make something fit the way you want it to while all the time knowing it’s wrong for you?

We all want to believe in others and try to please others, but at what cost? How long can you stay in a dying relationship or in a job that’s making you sick? How many times can you keep saying “yes” while inside you’re screaming “no”?

We all have inner guidance to point us in the right direction. The problem is, more often than not, we don’t listen. It’s not always easy to stand up for what we want – sometimes it seems impossible – but it’s always worth it. The moment I stood up for myself I began to sleep better and feel more relaxed – I could breathe. While I may not have gotten what I wanted at this time, I know something better will come.

Learn to trust yourself. Follow your intuition – it knows the way. You are stronger than you think and wiser than you know.