Relationships: Effective Communication | Elegant Navigation
Part 2: The Solutions (1100 words, average reading time: 4.5 minutes)
[Part 1 can be found HERE]
I have a very simple approach to relationships, that avoids most, if not all, of the problems outlined in the interpersonal conflicts above. It is the philosophical grounding I take on in all of my relationships explicitly:
It gives both parties maximum freedom to be themselves. It treats both parties like adults who are responsible for their own experience—and can express their needs. Everything is on the table and at face value. There is no second-guessing. There is no ambiguity. There are no guessing games or “game playing”.
And really, holding someone accountable to agreements they have not made—in the form of your unstated expectations—is simply unjust. It is also supremely arrogant, in that it assumes that “well, everybody knows that you should…” which can be translated at a deeper level of its assumption is “my way of doing relationships is the global standard”.
Your way of doing it may be more effective—and may even be more enjoyable for both parties if accepted by and engaged in by both parties—but it is not the only way to do it, and in the absence of an explicit consensus or agreement reality, you must create one.
As I said, it is simple. However, it is not easy.
There are several things you must do and develop efficacy with for this approach to work and work well for both parties. There is also a very effective way to communicate through those upsets before making your request (the last bullet point above). We’ll get to that in a few minutes.
First, here is what you must do:
Take on the recommended philosophical grounding and approach outlined in the bullet points above.
Take responsibility. Don’t do it for them, or for the other person. Do it for yourself—as your esteem for yourself will expand and grow each time you accept responsibility. Your sense of self expands. It also has the effect of allowing people who are emotionally mature enough to follow suit and take responsibility for their part in it—rather than polarizing, blaming each other, and digging your heels in—to the detriment of the relationship and/or for the thin gruel of short-term ego inflation (as opposed to healthy egoic expansion, which occurs, again, by taking responsibility).
Engage in as many other practices as possible to build true and healthy esteem for the self. It is your immune system for your emotional life.
Make a firm decision to practice and exercise your facility with self. At a bare minimum, know that even if your interpretations of what is occurring are mostly accurate, they are at least incomplete. Always look to include more information in your world-view. Expand your perspective.
More advanced practices to exercise your internal facility would be to consider:
Take on a responsible and conscious model for communicating your emotions, expectations, and for requesting an agreement around styles.
All three of those can be addressed by one simple model—in 4 steps. For this, I borrow heavily from Dr Marshall Rosenberg’s work. Here is my suggested approach to communicate upset and negotiate an agreement:
Let me provide an example of the kind of language to accomplish this, mapped to the steps, with some guidelines. Let’s take an innocuous example of someone not calling you and they then arrive 20 minutes late [recommended language in bold]:
This model can be used with any situation between two people where there is emotional upset present to elegantly and rapidly move through it.
And…to turn this in on itself, you could use this very model to get agreement around using this model. In fact, I highly recommend you do that.
How? Here is the model used to get agreement around the model:
If there is an actual agreement in place that was broken, there is another equally facile way to move through that…but I will save that for another time.
Some people have protested, “but this takes so much consciousness” or “so much awareness” or “but they should just know that…”
You have to choose for yourself if the relationship—intimate or friendly or professional—is worth increasing your consciousness and your skill. And it is a skill to navigate both your own interiors as well as the conflict using these approaches and models. Since it is a skill it will take practice—and give yourself the freedom to stumble until you become skilled at it.
What awaits you on the other side is fulfilling relationships based on clarity and truth—rather than assumptions and delusion—as well as the ability to rapidly move through conflict so that it takes just minutes, rather than days—or, frankly, never—to do so. AND these are approaches and skills that will serve not only you, but all of those around you in every single context and every relationship in your life.
Do it for yourself, if nothing else.
I think you’re worth it. I trust you do as well.
For more clarity and resources on the critical component of self-esteem, see Dr Nathaniel Branden’s work in general, and his Six Pillars of Self Esteem in particular. Here is an article to get you started.