How are you relating?
How you relate, will be the direct result of what you have learnt about communication from birth until now. Your experience of how you have been related to in the past and the meanings and perceptions you have placed on previous relationships, will be filtering into this present time. Relating is all about communicating and includes how we relate to others and how we relate to ourselves. As well as tone and pitch of voice, relating also includes our various communication styles, our body language and the content of what we say and how we say it.
Sometimes we think we are communicating effectively though at times, what we want to say and what we actually say, are two very different things. Take a look at the information offered here and explore the various communication styles to see which you tend to adopt. Use the information to bring your relating style back into balance, if you feel there is any room for improvement.
ASSERTIVE: Standing at an appropriate distance from another with an upright, still, relaxed and open body posture, making eye contact. Communication is direct, positive, responsible, honest and accepting.
PASSIVE: Weak body language, avoiding eye contact, fiddling with clothes or hair, quiet tone of voice, apologetic, moaning, helpless communication style.
INDIRECT AGGRESSION: Rolling eyes, mean looks, looking away from the other person, physically turning away from them. Communication style is controlling, sly, deceiving and manipulative.
DIRECT AGGRESSION: Challenging eye contact, hands on hips, invades personal space moving body too close to another’s, wringing of hands. Communication style is bossy, impatient and overbearing.
Think of a negative and upsetting conversation you’ve had with someone close to you. Consider how you were relating (communicating) by answering the questions below:
What you think is being said (what you think you can hear) and what is actually being said may be two different things. Think before you react and examine your perception of what you think is being said asking for clarification to get an accurate meaning. Sometimes we can get things totally wrong and find ourselves reacting from the past when we felt similar emotions to ones we experience in a current moment. Improving your relating style is important if you wish to build, transform and create loving relationships.
My belief is that communication is the best way to create strong relationships - Jada Pinkett Smith
Putting the relate back into relationships
Once we are aware of our relating style, we can make changes to our style of communication for improvement. We can learn to master different and more effective relating styles.
Tanya Case Study - Tanya sought my support to understand why her relationships were failing
Tanya had become pregnant at the age of fifteen and admitted she wasn’t coping well with being a mother, trying to find work as well as childcare and managing the whirlwind of emotions she experienced daily. Tanya had moved to and from different family members’ homes with her daughter, but still didn’t have the feeling of anywhere being home, she felt she didn’t have the ability and confidence to parent her daughter in the way she wanted. Tanya went back home to her parents two years after her daughter was born where she was exposed to the fights between her mother and step-father, both of whom were regularly drunk and would involve her in their arguments.
I worked with Tanya using The Spotlight Process (Chapter Six in my second book Mothers and Daughters) and we discussed and explored her past relationships in depth. The theme running throughout was being on the receiving end of angry communication styles. This way of communicating she realised belonged to her mother, her grandmother, various male characters in her life, relationship partners and also belonging to the voice of bullies she was the target of at school. As a teen, Tanya had experienced many unhappy times trying to fit in, she had been expelled from school on numerous occasions and had gained a reputation as a trouble maker. Tanya wasn’t able to express her emotions constructively and clearly, she would explode when her frustration and anger built up to boiling point, not even knowing at times what had caused it.
Tanya made great progress in our work together, once she realised she had been communicating in ways which weren’t helpful for her. She understood how the way she responded to others made the situation worse. After some soul searching and working with Tanya to find the way back to herself she realised she was beautiful, lovable and worthy, despite how others behaved around her. For the first time she started to believe not all future relationships would be hostile, angry or cause her heartache. We used EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique) also discussed in Mothers and Daughters to reduce anger, sadness, frustration and despair leaving Tanya in a much better place emotionally. Tanya went on to leave her parents’ home and formed a loving relationship with a single dad. To this day, she, her partner and their mutual children are doing well, her partner and the children use EFT when emotions run high and find they can easily communicate how they are feeling.
Once you are aware of how your past experiences influence you negatively, you can make changes in your life.
To effectively communicate, we must realize that we are all different in the way we perceive the world and use this as a guide to understanding our communication with others - Tony Robbins