More Intimacy? Investigate The Meaning Of “Loaded” Words
Learn to Explore The Meaning Your Partner Has On Whatever is Bothering Them
As you learn to communicate better you will have more intimacy and less drama. In just a moment, I’ll show you how to get you more intimacy starting today…
It is the nature of relationship interactions (As in two couples trying to communicate) to drum up beliefs and values that may or may not line up with each other.
This juxtaposition shows up in your daily conversations and interactions. It’s part of being human.
And it can be the start of friction between you two…
Problems in relationships begin when we resist these moments. When we respond without resistance we not only get to the truth more often we get better results and keep love intact.
And you don’t need to change your partner to get positive results.
Right about now you may be saying, “Your kidding, right?”
Not so fast…
The most common objection I get from couples is, “S/he won’t do the work on themselves.”
And it’s because of this belief that causes couples to flounder and often fails…
When you begin thinking this you are going down the wrong path.
I want to show you it’s actually not necessary to complain about your partner’s inadequacies for not being a good communicator.
Do this instead…
Focus on what is in your control!
When you master your inner world the external world is a breeze!
Take something as specific as mis-interpreting what the other person may mean when they share something.
Your ability to notice and effectively evaluate the “differences” can determine the fate of a conversation.
Reflect On Your Interpretations…
Instead of thinking the other person is the problem, focus instead on what is in your control. Take the time to reflect on how you interpreted what they said or did. And why you reacted the way you did.
If you do this enough, you’ll soon see how the past is influencing your decision or knee jerk reactions.
Once you are aware of this, you can ask questions to clear up differences without your partner being a master communicator.
Set Up a Container For Safety…
To get ahead of the curve on this issue, you can acknowledge that both of you have unique backgrounds. Learn to accept this about each other and look for the good in knowing your going to have different beliefs on certain topics. You may find it adds a lot of excitement to the relationship.
When you don’t discuss points of contention, then these differences begin to stack up and can negatively influence your relationship.
Eventually, you’ll learn what you are willing to accept or not based on those beliefs you’ve explored. This is an important process in deciding if you want a long-term partnership with this person.
Getting clear about your beliefs and values creates stability in a relationship.
You will end a lot of the drama that is manifested when you are unclear. The recycling of the same argument or fight can end the minute you get clear and make a decision what you are willing to accept or not.
Only through experience can you both begin to understand each other.
In a moment, I’ll show you a powerful communication technique I use with my clients that will eliminate arguments and fights. (You can find more training on this topic here as well.)
Understand The Meaning Assigned to Something…
The way you navigate differences has a lot to do with how secure you feel about yourself.
People that don’t feel safe in life will tend to be more reactive. This can be overcome by trying new strategies when insecurity gets activated…rather than using reactive strategies that are, by definition, design to protect you and are motivated by fear.
What I’m talking about are two types of strategies: Ones you use based on fear and ones you use based on inquiry or curiosity.
My “go to” strategy is to ask questions to better understand the meaning someone has on something they are sharing.
When you do that, you instantly move into curiosity rather than a fear-based reactive response.
I’m not asking you to agree with them. I’m asking you to move into curiosity rather than reaction. Just like when you were a child and had less judgment about life.
“Just imagine becoming the way you used to be as a very young child, before you understood the meaning of any word, before opinions took over your mind. The real you is loving, joyful, and free. The real you is just like a flower, just like the wind, just like the ocean, just like the sun.” – Don Miguel Ruiz
And There Are Side Benefits…
When you use this strategy with genuine curiosity, the other person will also feel better and more cared for because you’re taking the time to investigate and go deeper into the conversation. It sends the message, “what you have to say matters to me!”
As you practice moving into curiosity, it will also slow down your reactions when you hear something that doesn’t match your way of thinking. It is very common for a couple to get upset when they hear something that doesn’t match their paradigm. Use this tool to minimize potential conflict.
Imagine for a moment you are discussing something that has upset one of you.
Let’s say your partner is angry because they think you were flirting the other night at a party. When they approach, and accuse you of flirting, your job is to first check in and see if you were actually flirting (engage curiosity and ownership).
You’ll need to know what to do if it’s true because you don’t want to erode trust…
But what if you were not flirting?
What I recommend is to ask them what flirting means to them.
Explore that for a bit and keep checking in with yourself if you agree with them or not … (You can find out more in-depth details about this in the training I put together here).
If you are being genuinely curious, it may bring you insight into patterns you’ve habituated without realizing it. You may not even realize you were doing it and how it came across.
During this conversation, both of you are discussing back-and-forth the meaning your partner has on flirting. Do not defend your definition. Instead, just listen and reflect on why they think the way they do. Even if they have misinterpreted your intentions.
I once had a girlfriend who said guys kept asking her out when she had a boyfriend and she didn’t understand why. I immediately checked in with my recent experience with her at a dance event before we started dating. She was actually in a relationship at that time.
What I shared with her is I could not tell by her body language and openness that she was in a relationship. And her boyfriend at the time never showed up so that added to the mystery.
She also dressed very provocative. Lots of skin and cleavage showing. And she is stunningly beautiful.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m all for being yourself and allowing your sexuality to come forth. And unfortunately, there will be consequences for these messages. It goes without saying there is a pretty good chance at a dance social that a lot of single guys will pursue her based on that message. They have nothing to lose…
And it gets better…
She also said she set boundaries with a couple of the guys but they kept asking her out multiple times. When I asked her what she thought was going on there she could not tell me other than she didn’t want to hurt their feelings.
My coaching background tells me that is a fear based strategy that rarely works. She is taking responsibility for their emotions. She does herself and the pursuers a disservice when she behaves this way. It’s better to be clear while being loving about the message they need to get.
When we are clear about what we want and declare it with every cell in our bodies we stop sending mixed signals. In this case, I suspect she was leaving it up to them to figure out she was not available rather than claiming it fully. Her wishy-washy behavior caused them to think there was still a possibility so they kept pursuing.
When we are unconsciously fearful there is a pretty good chance we will not get what we are wanting. Your goal is to help the other person feel safe so they can sort out their emotions and meaning. You do this by remaining curious.
One major side benefit to using this approach is you make better decisions based on more accurate information versus a fantasy you may have created based on bits and pieces of reality and assumptions. Make it safe for both people by telling all the truth and reap the rewards even at the risk of upsetting people initially.
Use This Sequence To Communicate Better
When you make the statement, “Tell me what that means to you…” be genuinely interested. This creates space to cultivate safety and minimizes their natural defenses.
We shall listen, not lecture; learn, not threaten. We will enhance our safety by earning the respect of others and showing respect for them. In short, our foreign policy will rest on the traditional American values of restraint and empathy, not on military might. – Theodore C. Sorenson
One trap to watch out for, is if you are looking for the flaws in their argument. Don’t do it. That’s a defensive move and will surely provoke their defensive maneuvers.
In the bigger scheme of things, what you are after is to discover the underlying impulse that is causing you to react in the first place. Most of the time it’s an unconscious motivation that needs to be evaluated.
In the more in-depth training I have linked above, I help you to see why knowing what is going on in the bigger scheme of things will give you added advantage to changing old habits that may be eating away at your relationship.
Train yourself to live in the truth rather than serving fear. One of my teachers, Dr. Gay Hendricks, used to say, “Be more committed to the truth and the relationship will naturally follow.”
Truth and Safety Are Reliable Tools…
Truth and safety are the gateways to discovering what can help your relationship to thrive and allow you to communicate better.
Without this knowledge you will be dealing with a symptom not the root cause.
Arguing is a symptom. The root cause might be a memory of parents fighting when you were little and your fear of them breaking up or getting divorced.
Blaming others for your problems is a symptom. It may be the root cause is related to helplessness you felt when your father didn’t spend enough time with you or encourage you as a youngster.
As you practice being 100% honest, you’ll begin to see how your past is wreaking havoc on your current situation.
“We are never upset for the thing we think we are upset about.” – Dr Gay Hendricks
Have a Bigger Commitment To Reveal The Truth
Going back to our flirting example above…
What if you were attracted to the person at the party?
It’s ok to acknowledge this with the intention to discover why…
As long as you truly want to deal with the “real” reason, your partner would be smart to encourage a deep reflective conversation about what else is going on in your relationship that needs to be looked at.
Sometimes we unconsciously collude with each other without realizing it. We want to know what those collusions are.
The next step then, is to ask yourself, “What is missing in my own relationship that I need to ask for or that I’m avoiding?”
Moving into a place of curiosity starts training your unconscious to give you the deeper answer. It’s worth practicing.
You see it’s very common to have a need that is being suppressed because you don’t realize it’s safe to ask for it. Or you may be out of touch with something because you learned your needs were not valued growing up. In other words, it has become a habit to ignore your own needs and wants.
To communicate better it’s a really good idea for a while to make a deep commitment to revealing these hidden patterns even at the expense of triggering the other person. Over time, you will sort it out and realize what is influencing you.
“Living with integrity means: Not settling for less than what you know you deserve in your relationships. Asking for what you want and need from others. Speaking your truth, even though it might create conflict or tension. Behaving in ways that are in harmony with your personal values. Making choices based on what you believe, and not what others believe.” ― Barbara De Angelis
Sometime We Don’t Get What We Want In Life…
I hope you are seeing that your goal is to never suppress any desire or need. Always express them regardless of whether you will get it or not. Sometimes in life we get what we want and other times we don’t.
It’s a fact of life.
The sooner you face that reality the easier it is to navigate.
A side benefit is you will also get more in touch with your personal needs. Then you can simply ask instead of creating an environment where some drama begins unfolding.
When you are clear about your needs and ask for them you are staying in integrity in your relationship. Most importantly with yourself.
Many times when we are younger we don’t get our needs met. Some of us were even made wrong or shamed for asking for what we wanted. We need to change that way of thinking. Having a need or desire is good.
Take time today to listen to your partner. Ask about the meaning they have on something that upsets them.
Repeat back what you think the underlying need is for them.
Debrief them afterwards and ask them how that was for them.
Keep asking for what you want until it becomes natural again.
Now take a moment and post your comments below. Let me know what was useful in this article and post any questions you may have.
…and make it a good day!
P.S. If you are currently having BIG challenges in your current relationship you may need professional support. I’m here for you. Practice what is in this handout and mini course to jumpstart your efforts to improve your situation. Learn this and many of your challenges can disappear…