By Rob Furlong
The sign hanging from the balcony of the second floor apartment said it all. It simply read, "For sale – one husband!"
After a number of weeks of government enforced isolation, clearly things – or her husband – were getting to one poor lady!
With most of the world in some form of lockdown it would be unusual for even the best of relationships to not experience some form of tension at the moment!
Some years ago I came across the following "Ten rules for communication" – if you are finding it difficult to either listen or be heard lately then let these encourage you!
• Listen: Don't interrupt or assume you know what the person is going to say. Listen instead! And always be polite!
• Empathy: Try and put yourself in the other person's shoes as well as honouring the fact that they have chosen to be open and vulnerable with you.
• Acceptance: Never treat the person as an inferior. Instead, accept them for who they are.
• Understanding: Remember, other people have a point of view as well and they are entitled to it. It doesn't make them right. They may not have all the facts or their understanding may be faulty – but you might be too!
• Control: Try not to raise your voice, drown the other person out with your words or monopolise the conversation. Arguing, sulking or resorting to tears are poor ways to make your point.
• Questions: Ask questions to clarify a point if necessary. Make sure the question is relevant to the discussion and not simply an attempt by you to push your point of view.
• Interest: Give the person your full attention which means not being distracted by FaceBook, your phone or a mind that wanders. Paying attention can be difficult but it is a skill that can be learned and mastered and the other person will appreciate it. My experience has been that people can tell when you are zoning out and when they catch you it can lead to a very uncomfortable moment.
• The past: One husband said to his counselor that in an argument his wife would always "become historical." "Don't you mean hysterical?" asked the counselor. "No!" replied the husband adamantly. "Historical – every time we fight she keeps bringing up all my past mistakes and failures!" Don't refer back to past incidents or failures by the other person. It only reveals a lack of forgiveness on your part and it keeps them trapped in condemnation and failure.
• Time: one of the greatest gifts we can give each other is our time. And let's face it, at the moment we have a bit more of that at our disposal! Meaningful conversation flourishes when we allow time for it. A two way conversation in a relaxed environment not only fosters clearer communication but engenders deeper love. A wise man once said that for many people "being heard by someone else also demonstrates to them that they are truly loved."
• Listen: We finish where we began! When we act selfishly we seek only to vindicate ourselves, but love listens. Allowing someone to express themselves in a genuinely caring environment establishes deep roots from which healthy, mutual love grows.
Communication is vital to every relationship but without a healthy understanding of the key principles underpinning it, we can end up sending out and receiving extremely garbled messages.
Don't hang out the "For sale" sign on your loved one just yet!•