Communication This is the biggest issue we face in all facets of life and work, and miscommunicating is seemingly what we do best! The recent experiences I have had with friends and connections in relationship bares out what a wise friend of mine repeatedly says. The first three rules of relationship are: communication, communication, communication. We are very poor communicators. No wonder the movies which display alien invasions end with us launching rockets at spaceships with a perception that aliens are all bad. Now Dr John Gray in his brilliant series of Mars and Venus books sets us up, I mean men and women, as aliens to one another. Have you launched an attack at your alien partner recently? No? Good, you are in the minority…. or is it? Plenty of relationships exist with an undercurrent of tension, mistrust and antagonism, waiting to erupt into the finale which leads to the divorce courts and the dividing up of children’s futures and material possessions. You now know why the toothpaste tube becomes the issue, it is the proverbial straw breaking the camel’s back. Communication is a very important ingredient in the relationship pie, and if you can master a few simple rules, you will see the results immediately. Of course when you adopt a new way of speaking or listening, you will probably be viewed with suspicion, so don’t be put off the first time you try and throw a tantrum shouting…“I knew it was a flaky idea, bunny hugging nonsense, the aliens are nasty and are out to get us, there is nothing we can do”. Ideally, involve your alien in your attempt to get on track, the track you thought you could stick to when you said “I do”, or “lets move in together, you are the one for me”. If your attempt at resolving issues or resurrecting a flagging relationship is genuine, or if you can simply see the rut setting in, you will get buy in. If not, and your attempt is genuine, and you have given it three or twenty really solid attempts at different times, perhaps it is time to seek mediation and or begin devising a workable retreat. So let us look at what we do wrong, and what we can add to the ingredients to change our results. I will start at the beginning of a relationship. Consider that all things are not equal and that order does not prevail. You do not know each other. How we get to know each other is to open ourselves up. The more you reveal of your true nature, thoughts, beliefs and even parts of you that you may not be proud of, the more real you are, the more likely you are to build trust. Many relationships are built on a healthy level of secrecy, and this eventually festers. It takes courage, sometimes huge courage to confess sins of the past or present and ask for a workable way forward, with forgiveness. The nature of relationship is that they are dynamic, and the nature of communication is reciprocal. We act and get a reaction. Therefore, the person to change if your relationships are not well, is yourself. Often, relationship downfalls are due to finger pointing and the blame game, which results in us playing one of three relationship roles identified by Dr Stephen Karpman’s drama triangle. The (P) perpetrator, the (R) rescuer or (V) victim. These roles cause drama in our lives as we get a kick out of either feeling powerful and in charge, saving the day, or getting sympathy. We may find ourselves playing a different role in different relationships, and also rotate between the roles at different times during a relationship. Karpman Triangle What may work is to not go into an intimate relationship until you are balanced and clear about what you want from a relationship, what you are willing to bring, and who you will be in that relationship. The key is to opt out, to be aware when playing one of the roles, to be aware of why that role is addictive in a way, and to then choose not to play. Sometimes this is a life’s work. What I need to stress is the need for honest self-awareness. If you are brave enough, know thyself! Here are some key tools for communication success! 1. Take Full Responsibility You are not responsible for what your partner says to you, but you may be entirely responsible for the reaction you invoke. Be willing to accept that you may have caused a situation, even inadvertently. 2. Choose your words How we communicate can have a great impact. Words can be violent, manipulative or loving and compassionate…you choose! – So be aware that language is so important, that the words you use and the manner in which you say them will affect your relationship profoundly. – How about this one? “Why do you always do that? You are such a pain.” – Or “I feel really awkward/hurt/disempowered when that happens, can we agree to do it differently next time?” 3. Be willing to be wrong. Self righteous behaviour leads to discord. Do you have to be right all the time? What is it about you that needs to be right? Insecurity perhaps? Well work on being secure through positive reinforcement. Try a mantra…something like “I am balanced, secure and everything in my life is good.” 4. Only you choose your emotions. That is it, isn’t it. You are not a radio controlled robot. You are thinking and feeling your way through life. You make it all happen, you weave your tapestry. We all have buttons to push and people in relationships find each others buttons sooner or later. Emotional maturity requires that you create a way to choose your actions based on the best way forward in any situation. Simply reacting to another’s inferences, accusations or blame is giving your power to them. 5. Say what you mean, mean what you say. In any interaction where communication happens, being willing to back yourself, getting to the crux of the matter and making yourself understood is vital. These days there is so much misinformation, a blur of white noise and information overload, so the best thing you can do is work on simplifying your message. We don’t say “my dearest darling, in the future, not too distant future, it would be a wonderful thing if you would consider being the person I consider my partner, my love, my marital partner. Do you have a similar intent?” “Will you marry me?” – that is the most powerful line. It invokes emotion, unlocks dreams and creates a whole life of communication difficulty, because we forget how simple it was to agree. by Mark Smith