It’s Not What You Think
You see things your way and I see them mine. Which one is right? Neither. Which one is wrong? Neither. Each one of us is raised to see, hear, say and interpret situations and events a particular way – our particular way. Your way does not match mine and my way does not match yours. This difference can cause poor communication between us and yet it is imperative that we communicate well. When we do, we reduce the number of misunderstandings. This is important because misunderstandings can create separation between us. When we feel separate from others, we feel unloved and lonely. No one wants to feel that way. Loving communication can help us stay connected and feel loved. Loving communication means we incorporate kindness, patience, compassion and understanding in our exchanges with each other. It is not always easy, but it is always possible.
Our differences often lead us to think things about another person’s motivation or intentions that aren’t true. In our mind, we see the situation a certain way, but that doesn’t mean it’s what we think it is. Sticking to our interpretation without input from the other party leads to a complete oversight of the accurate meaning of whatever was initially being communicated at the time. And though there are some similarities and norms in our words and gestures that allow us to arrive at common conclusions, many of the attempted communications we have with others, especially our loved ones, are strained due to these initial misperceptions.
It is natural that we don’t all see life the exact same way. This is also what makes life so interesting and exceptional. Each one of us is afforded a unique experience of life on planet Earth that is created especially for us. The beauty of this phenomenon includes sharing our viewpoints – not because one is right and the other is wrong, but because we get to expand our life experience through another person’s point of view. Imagine how boring life would be if all we knew was our interpretation of life. When others share their views on life situations with us, we grow, or expand. When we expand, we are aligned with love because love is all about expansion.
We are lucky, indeed, for we experience not only our own individual impressions of events in life, but we are able to share the collective experience as well – a divine “two-fer”. The collective impression can be thought of as our shared experience of an event. Both can be incredibly powerful and life-changing. For instance, if one thousand people attend a Fleetwood Mac concert, there will be one thousand individual experiences of that event. But, because we are all connected as a collective energy, there will also be a collective experience of the event that is sensed as a group. So, when the band sings a crowd favorite, which is most of Fleetwood Mac’s songs, we are afforded the experience of everyone’s energy in the room connected to each other to produce an electrifying, all-engaging, heart-felt experience. The power and strength of this is amazing. This is one way we expand and connect.
For the purposes of communication, the individual experience we have of life is the reason we must clarify what we mean when we are communicating with each other. The collective experience is why it works so well when we do – because we are connected. The two together create a more complete understanding of each other and a better chance for improved communication. In this complete state, we are aligned with love, which is always aligned with healing. We all need healing.
The difficulty we experience when communicating with each other is often made more challenging by three things:
- We take stuff personally,
- We don’t let go of the past and
- We don’t collaborate to resolve the issue.
When we communicate, we tend to take things personally, but nothing is personal. It can’t be. When we look at life through our beliefs, those beliefs about life belong to us and no one else. It is the same for others when they look at our life. Their beliefs belong to them and can only apply to them. So it is impossible to hold another to some idea we have about life that is personal to us and it is impossible for us to apply someone else’s ideas to our life for the same reason. So, there is no need to take anything personally. Instead, listen objectively to what someone has to say. All that is happening is the other person is telling you a story about how they perceive life – they are not telling you the truth about you or anything else. When we don’t take things personally, we are more objective, less emotional and find a solution that works for both parties.
We have to let go of the past if the communication is going to move in a direction that allows an agreeable resolution for both parties. I was working with a couple who had broken up after six years together. The communication was going well until we got to what one party thought was the main reason for the break up – all the things the other party had done to hurt the first party over the six years. It was a long list and it was a steel wall. There was no moving past these no matter how much explanation, apology and responsibility taking the other party did. It was futile. Needless to say, they did not reconcile. Letting go of the past doesn’t mean we approve or disapprove of the other person’s actions. It means we let go of what is over and done with so we can learn from it and move forward as a team working toward a common goal – resolution of the problem or of the relationship. It is amazing what we hold onto in lieu of love.
Communication requires a common goal at the outset if it is going to be successful. It is most helpful to decide what you both want out of the communication and agree on the goal. Keep the goal beneficial to both. “Admit that you screwed up the whole thing” is not a goal. Know that you may have to agree to disagree on some things which is fine because with our varying backgrounds, you may not be able to agree on everything. Don’t let that be a stumbling block to your communication. Keep your communication on target and refrain from getting off on tangents that extend the communication for hours longer than necessary and that do nothing more than separate you further and create an adversarial atmosphere.
Each time there is a need for discussion or communication with your loved one, it is an opportunity for us to learn about ourselves – not to lay blame or demean another. We get to look at patterns and habits we have that may have created misperceptions of what was said or done by the other party. Most of the time, misinterpretations are due, not just to our training, but also to some fear we have, such as a fear of being left alone, a fear of not being perfect or a fear of not being worthy of love. The patterns and habits can show us our fears if we take time to talk it out and work through issues as a team. Sometimes we need a mediator to help see things, so decide together if this is something that would be agreeable to you both. When we uncover the fear behind the misperception, we can begin to heal from it.
Things are not always what we think they are. There are other interpretations and other possibilities of meaning and intention. Being open to this will help us communicate better with each other. Communicating with love is the key. When we communicate with love, we are automatically in alignment with understanding, acceptance and a willingness to meet on common ground.
5 Ways to Communicate with Love
When we talk to each other, exhibit facial expressions or body language, we are communicating. But, we can’t always be certain the intention of our words and gestures are interpreted correctly. Below are some suggestions to improve your relationships with loving communication. These are only some suggestions to get you going. There are many more. See what you can come up with on your own to help improve communication with loved ones.
- So many of us are waiting to talk instead of listening to the other person. When we become an active listener, we are able to hear what the other person is thinking and we can find common ground to begin solving the misunderstanding. Remember, we are listening to their take on the event, not truth or reality. The reciprocal is true – our take on the story is also not truth or reality. We have to come to an agreement on the final meaning. That takes willingness, understanding and love.
- Honesty really is the best policy. An honest conversation about feelings or a possible misinterpretation allows the situation to be resolved. If you end your communication with a solution and either, or both, parties have not been honest, the resolution will be a sham. Soon you will be back repeating the same patterns that created the miscommunication in the first place. It is not worth it. Honesty builds trust. Trust builds love. Love moves mountains.
- Let go of assumptions and politely ask what someone means. When someone says something to me I don’t understand or if I am not certain of the meaning, I just say, “I don’t know what that means. Will you help me understand, please?” That may sound silly, but it helps prevent misunderstandings. That makes life easier and more enjoyable. And I learn a lot.
- Agree to work through things and to communicate as a team. This automatically puts you on the same side and makes you stronger individually and together. This also makes it easier to work towards your agreed upon common goal. Collaboration means no one loses. It means both parties feel good about the communication and the outcome.
- Laugh. Humor lightens the mood. There is difference in laughing at someone’s expense and not taking things too seriously. When we don’t take things too seriously, we can stay focused on the real issue and resolve it faster. Most of what we think is serious in life just isn’t. Humor makes us realize no one and nothing is perfect, including us, and that is just fine. If we open our minds to making communication fun, interesting and even funny sometimes, we will be less likely to feel uncomfortable, be embarrassed or feel the need to be dishonest.
Communication is important, there is no doubt. It is a key to well-connected, loving relationships. But, know that when we miscommunicate, the world isn’t ending, we have merely miscommunicated. There is no need to overreact to the mistake or to make up more drama over it. All communication issues can be resolved. The goal of all communication is connection, team work and healing. Your goal will fall somewhere near here if you both agree to work with love when you communicate.