by Paul and Layne Cutright
You know the old adage for success in real estate. Location, location, location. Well, a similar adage could apply to success in relationships. Only, it would be communication, communication, communication!
Nothing is more important than your relationships, because your relationships affect every part of your life. We think you’ll agree it is in your relationships that your deepest feelings arise. Your relationships can take you from the depths of hurt, disappointment, rage, and grief to the heights of joy, love, anticipation, and ecstasy - sometimes all in the same day and all within one relationship!
There is no question that relating with our fellow human beings can sometimes be heartwarming and magical and at other times tedious and agonizing. The fact is most problems in relationships are born of misunderstanding and miscommunication.
As individuals we live on our own solitary islands of reality, absorbed in and fascinated by our own points of view. Frequently we reach out to one another seeking to understand or be understood. The bridge between our separate realities is communication. Communication is what joins us with others. To communicate is to relate; without communication of some kind there is no relationship.
To a very large degree the quality of your relationships depends upon the quality of your communication. And it is the breakdowns in communication that often generate the heartbreak and disappointment of unfulfilled dreams, visions, and goals. The most treasured moments in our lives occur when we as individuals connect from the heart with the soul of someone else. Most people experience this rarely, if ever.
What we have discovered is that these moments of true connection can be deliberately created. There are principles and processes that you can learn to help you develop the skill to fill your life with these kinds of moments. When you do this, you will be reawakened to your capacity to connect deeply with the people you care about most in an upwelling of compassion.
”What is one of the biggest challenges you have in your relationships?” we often ask participants in our teleclasses and workshops. What we hear over and over again is, “Communication!”
Most people have a lot of frustration and confusion associated with communication. They recognize that they need to talk about some difficult issues but often don’t know how to bring them up. Nor do they trust their ability to navigate all the way through the rough spots to honest, heartfelt resolution for everyone concerned.
Some people talk incessantly, as if in a desperate attempt to be heard and validated, but instead end up driving people away. Others are very closed and secretive, as if they are afraid of being found out somehow. Still others seem to blame everything wrong in their lives on others, then wonder why they feel isolated and alone. Some people never seem to listen, but are always quick either to talk about themselves or to offer unsolicited advice.
Do you do any of these things in your relationships? Do you know anyone who does? When someone is speaking to you, are you so busy thinking about what you want to say that sometimes you don’t even hear the other person? Do you feel safe letting people know when you are afraid or insecure, or do you think you are supposed to appear strong and in control to be loved or respected? Can you talk freely about the things that are truly important to you, as well as the things that bother you, or are you afraid of appearing vulnerable and foolish?
What if you felt totally at ease and comfortable being your true, authentic self in your relationships with others? What do you think would happen if you felt safe enough to tell the truth about your thoughts and feelings all the time in your relationships? What if others felt safe enough to tell you the truth about their thoughts and feelings? How do you think you would feel about each other?
Our experience with our students and clients has shown over and over again that they end up feeling closer and more trusting with each other. There is a direct correlation between honesty, intimacy, and trust. Have you ever told someone you care about that you want to have a heart-to-heart talk?
For most people, having a heart to heart implies there is some truth or feeling to share. It could be any of a number of things: an expression of love and acknowledgment, a request for (or offer of) advice or counsel on a sensitive matter, or, just as easily, a problem or an upset. In all cases a request for a heart-to-heart talk implies value to the relationship and a certain level of existing trust.
Outside the context of such conversations, however, problems arise all too frequently in relationships because of miscommunication and misunderstanding. Feelings get hurt; there is anger, sadness, and defensiveness. The walls go up, and usually there is no further discussion. Over time love becomes more of a concept than a feeling. (“Why, of course I love you. Don't be silly!”) Trust diminishes, and real intimacy is lost.
Usually when people are having problems and misunderstandings, they tend to think there is something wrong with them, or the other person, or both. The more disappointments you have over time, the more this attitude is reinforced.
We have a different point of view, however. What we have discovered is that people have problems and misunderstandings in their relationships not because there is something wrong with them, but rather because they lack education in the fundamental principles and practices of successful relationships.
If you approach relationship challenges with the attitude there is something to learn - and you can learn it - as opposed to the attitude that there is something wrong with you that needs fixing, then your chances of producing successful relationships are greatly increased.
One of the most important skills to learn and practice in relationships is the art of successful communication. When you practice effective, satisfying communication you are rewarded with relationships filled with more love, intimacy, understanding and trust.
Layne and Paul Cutright have been teaching principles and strategies for successful relationship since 1976. They are founders of The Center for Enlightened Partnership, providing education, coaching and consulting for people who want practical solutions for everyday challenges in their personal and professional relationships. Paul and Layne have enjoyed a deeply passionate romantic, professional and creative partnership for over 25 years. You may visit their site at http://paulandlayne.com