If you are going to communicate everything in your file to another person, how would you manage your communication?
Expressing the File
It is evident that being accusatory, yelling, finger-pointing, and attacking would be nonproductive. Instead, you are speaking to another person. You need to handle them with both respect and care.
Also, be open and honest and say exactly what you need to say without sugar-coating it. Listeners find it annoying if they feel the speaker is trying to protect their feelings by being "nice." Some of the things you learned as children keep you stuck. One of these childhood messages is that if you do not have something good to say, you should not say anything. If you took this instruction literally, you would never communicate your upsets and disappointments and your files would grow and grow. Obviously, that old childhood message is not very useful here.
At the same time, it is critical that you not be righteous. If you become righteous, the listener will feel you are "wronging them," then they will want to justify and defend themselves, which would defeat the purpose of the exercise.
At this point many people ask, "but why would I want to say it at all, especially the things I do not want to confront?" Only when the file is completely empty can there be 100% openness, intimacy, and trust. If you leave anything in the file, it becomes like a cancer that can only grow and eventually cause another upset.
How to Listen: The Art of Grocking
Most us don't actually listen to what the other person is saying. We tend to listen from a place of judgment, of whether we agree or disagree? Is what they are saying right or wrong? We listen from a guarded reality. Unless we are really able to appreciate the other person's stance or position, all communications continue to break down. What often passes for communication is just human beings manipulating one another in order to defend and maintain their world-view. If we are not manipulating, we are looking in the world for agreement about the rightness of our perspective. To communicate, we have to grasp the other's reality, and we have to be willing to not take their communication personally. The words other people say rarely have anything to do with us. They're just words. We seem to feel the need to defend and protect ourselves from others' words, but other people's reactions to us have to do with where they are coming from. We simply represent something to them. We are rarely the thing itself.
If communication is ever going to happen we have to be more committed to being connected with the person we are listening to than we are about being right about our perspective. We have to be willing to see the way in which our pride is poisoning our relating to one another. In other words, it has to be more important to be connected to the other person than it is to being right. Likewise, we have to be willing to see the way in which our pride is damaging not only our relationship, but ourselves. The pride is like a poison that seeps its way into every aspect of our lives.
We can engage in our relationships from an entirely different paradigm. Within this paradigm, we have the space to heal any and all relationships that are broken. At the essence of this stance is listening for respect. Ultimately, this is what we all seek. We seek other human beings to reflect us and to hold the space for us. In order to heal a relationship, it requires an act of generosity.
Listening from a place of generosity can heal any relationship. All it takes to restore a relationship that has been stuck for minutes, hours, days, or even years, is to understand what the other person is saying exactly, with nothing added and nothing changed, just getting their experience, the background of the experience, and listening form a place of respect. When what they are saying is totally grocked--which means to understand so thoroughly that the observer becomes a part of the observed--conflict disappears and connections can reappear.
Getting in the other person’s world is listening from their reality or seeing their words in relationship to their lives, not ours. In order to grock, we have to hear what is going on, both on the surface and below. We have to hear what is not being said, including body language, facial expressions, and the subtleties that arise in language. In addition, we have to be willing to listen for the emotion present. Rarely do we hold space for our own emotions, much less another's emotions. Often times we fear someone else's anger, hurt, jealousy, and sadness for fear that it will destroy us. However, if we listen from the place that emotions are not personal, we can just feel without needing to defend what the other person's world is like.
Curiosity and Compassion
If someone is going to tell you everything in her file, how would you listen to it? The way to listen is to listen with curiosity and compassion. Listen by getting your attention off yourself, getting over there with the other person is, and get how it is for her or him.
Thank You, Go Deeper, and Say More
Also, encourage the other person to say everything, and say nothing in response other than “thank you.” Do not react, do not listen as if you you’re being wronged, and do not take anything the other person says personally, even though it is personal.
If you sense that there is something more that needs to be said that will create more intimacy, you can say, “Go deeper” or “Say More.” You are the one who is in the driver’s seat. You are responsible for lifting the veil that’s blocking intimacy between you and your partner. If you’re willing to hear more, in fact, all of it, by requesting more or go deeper, then you have the power to recreate intimacy. If you hold back because you’re afraid of hearing it all, then you, once again, will be passing up an opportunity to create intimacy with you and another human being.
Recreating Trust Series
Learning how to create and recreate trust is the most critical step to being intimately connected with others. This is one part in a six-part series that explores how trust and intimacy breaks down in relationships and how to recreate it. And, by the way, if you’ve been in a relationship romantically or non-romantically for longer than two months, then you're probably inadvertently experiencing breakdown.
- Part 1—The Honeymooon
- Part 2—The Letdown
- Part 3—Storing Our Resentments
- Part 4—File Emptying
- Part 5—Take an Inventory
- Part 6—Expressing the File and Listening
[jbox color="blue" vgradient="#fdfeff|#bae3ff" title="Complimentary Relationship Rescue Coaching Session"]If you are ready to make a shift in your relationships and want help developing a game plan, I offer a complimentary 60-minute Relationship Rescue coaching session. There's no obligation; I love doing these and hope you'll get in touch.