Thursday, July 2, 2009

Misunderstandings Happen!

Misunderstandings happen in relationships. Although our goal is effective communication, we don't always make it. It is common for us to make inaccurate assumptions about the intentions of our partner when we don't take the time to get all the facts. Very often we will fill in the holes in the story with our own information. When we do that we may be headed for trouble.

How do we avoid this pitfall? Oddly enough, anatomy gives us the answer. We have two ears and one mouth. This indicates that we should listen twice as much as we speak. Truthfully, most of us speak twice as much (or more) as we listen. Practicing active listening is much more than just hearing what is being said to us. Active listening includes focusing our energy on understanding the meaning behind what our partner is saying in addition to the words being said. We refrain from thinking ahead to our next statement, and instead work on paraphrasing what we have understood from our partner both in words and underlying emotional message. This is not our normal pattern of relaxed chatter and may require a great deal of focus until we are more practiced in our approach.

When we have a misunderstanding with our partner our goal is to repair the rift. We do this by taking responsibility for our part. We own our stuff. We do this because we realize that when we own our part, we free our partner to feel compassion and empathy as a result of our vulnerability and humanness. Our partner can then feel free to own their part in the misunderstanding as well, fully sealing the rift. This breaks down the walls of resentment and bitterness and allows us to reconnect emotionally.

Misunderstandings happen. They can create painful episodes between partners leaving behind walls of anger and frustration. It is important to resolve misunderstandings promptly to avoid those feelings of anger and frustration becoming bitterness and resentment.

As we practice our tools in our daily lives we create an atmosphere of warmth and understanding between ourselves and our partner. Feelings of self esteem grow best in relationships where individuality is encouraged, communication is effective and mistakes are tolerated.
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