If you think someone has to win, you both lose.
Just because we get older doesn’t mean we get wiser. Actually, for boomers it often means that we just get stuck in our younger way of doing things. Here’s an example.
I remember talking with a new client. She was feeling quite angry with her husband. Her anger stemmed from a conversation that didn’t go the way she felt it should have. I asked her a few questions to get to the root of the problem when she had an “Ah-ha!” moment. The Ah-ha came when she realized the only reason the conversation got out of hand was because she and her husband both assumed they knew what the other was thinking.
“Why did you assume?” I asked.
“I always do. Don’t most people?” she replied.
“Yes,” I confirmed. “Most people do assume they know what the other person is thinking. But that assumption quite often is wrong.”
“So, what could I do next time?” she asked.
“Simple,” I told her. “Don’t assume.”
She responded, “So what should I do?”
I offered a suggestion. I also made it very clear that what I was about to suggest applies to most communication, not just when talking to her husband. I also told her that what I was going to suggest is very easy to say, but not easy to implement.
“OK, ok” she said, “What is it?”
“The next time you talk with someone on any topic, when the other person says something, stay in the present.”
She looked a bit puzzled, so I continued.
“Ask questions about what the other person just said,” I explained. “When you stay in the present conversation and ask deeper questions, you’ll learn more about the person and the topic from their perspective. You will not only learn more about the person, that person will feel like they have really been heard,” I told her.
She went off to give this a try.
Shortly after that this topic came up again with another client. She told me she and her husband recently went to bed angry from an earlier conversation. I asked, “So, where are you now with that anger?”
She said both she and her husband are not angry at all anymore.
“What happened?” I asked.
She said the next morning as they lay in bed, she practiced what I had recommended. She told me that since she started doing this all of her relationships have been getting better and better.
“So, what was the shift that went from anger to being happy again?” I asked.
She had learned to not assume she knew why he was angry. Instead, she asked her husband one short question that opened up a wonderful conversation that lasted an hour.
“What was the question you asked?”
She had asked him, “What are you really angry about, honey?”
What a great question! Did you notice the absence of defensiveness or blame? Instead, she opened the discussion up to what was really important to him.
As I said before, this is simple, but it is hard to implement. Our natural reaction is to defend ourselves when tension mounts, but we have to fight that and instead focus on the other person. It takes effort to see the situation from their point of view, but it is so worth it and it is very powerful.
Just like my clients, when you stay in the present, ask questions about what the person just said and you'll see many things open up. You learn more about the person with whom you’re speaking. Your relationship moves to a deeper level as you each learn more about each other. They see you as interested and they truly feel heard and cared for.
This is what I call a win-win situation.
Of course, there's a lot more to good communication, but this makes a great start. If you would like to learn more, or if you have questions of your own, let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/LifeCoachCurt
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Curt Gorlick, The Life Choice Strategist, founder of Frustration2Fulfillment.com. Break The Barriers To Happiness: The 10 Proven Strategies to the Life & Relationships You Want is exactly what took Curt from living the life from hell to now living the life he loves. Curt has been in your shoes and he knows if he can do it, you can too. To get your F.R.E.E Tips From Break The Barriers To Happiness, visit http://frustration2fulfillment.com