Broadening Our Perspective
Achieving Connection & Understanding
One of the most beneficial yet neglected practices we can engage in to broaden our perspective, and thus improve ourselves and our ability to meaningfully connect with others — is to adequately prepare for key communication encounters.
When we effectively prepare for important discussions in heart-centered, reflective ways, the preparation process itself begins to change us — it affects our views, ideas, and perspectives on things. It helps us to better see what is truly relevant and important in a given situation. This clarity often spawns intuitive feelings and ideas of changes that could be made that would be in everyone’s best interest to consider, and perhaps to adopt through a collaborative implementation process.
As well, effective preparation helps us to adequately contemplate how we could best express ourselves. It gives us time to formulate a communication strategy that will make it as easy as possible for others to feel cared for and connected to us. These factors are vital in achieving deeper understandings of each other’s true feeling and needs. If each of us took the time to learn how to effectively prepare for important communication encounters in these ways, I have no doubt, the world would begin to change for the better rapidly.
Two things are required for any relationship to consistently achieve its potential of enjoyment and engagement, and the same holds true for people living or working together:
Those involved need to have the ability to both:
1) effectively listen, (and as important)
2) effectively express themselves.
As a society, it should be quite obvious to us that we are neither very skilled at listening, nor in expressing ourselves, and this is especially true when we feel pressured or emotionally challenged. So it seems to me we would benefit a great deal by fully recognizing these societal human communication life skills shortcomings. I feel that it is very important for us to begin openly examining why we are not paying more attention to learning how to replace negative life-diminishing living and relating patterns, with positive life-enhancing patterns.
To regularly meet our basic human need for Equality and Trust (HCR Needs Category 5) requires a fairly high level of consistency in experiencing positive interactions with each other. What we want to experience in our most important relationships is consistency of flow. What we don’t want to experience is too much friction. Now, there will always be some level of friction in any relationship, just as there will always be some measure of flow. Flow represents what we desire to be happening. Friction (for the most part) represents what we don’t want to be happening. Flow and Friction are the opposites of each other, and thus always exist together, just as up is the opposite of down, fast the opposite of slow, and so on.
Learning how to consistently connect with each other in heart-centered, heart-empowering ways is the key to creating an abundance of personal and relationship flow experiences, and thus, key to reducing friction experiences to a level that is helpful instead of harmful. Based upon Positive Psychology research studies, healthy relationships have approximately 85 — 95% positive flow experiences, so only about 5 to 15% of the time is there some form of friction experience. However, a “friction experience” is not necessarily negative, but rather, can be a healthy exchange — a sharing and challenging of ideas and views. When we communicate with an attitude of openness to consider the ideas and views of the other, in a mutual cooperative effort to find the best needs-fullfilling solution to any challenge, then this builds really valuable, trustworthy, caring connections with each other.
A rate of friction experiences exceeding 20% begins to erode the relationship, and this erosion process frequently results in an increase in frustrating, energy-draining conflicts, which further erodes the trust in the relationship. This often leads to a cycle of small and large conflicts, each one triggering a negative emotional charge within us. The more this happens, the greater the difficulty we have in relating with each other constructively, and the more vulnerable we become to making mistakes in how we express ourselves, listen to each other, and behave towards each other. When we lose control of our negative feelings, it creates an emotional minefield atmosphere, and when we are relating in this environment, insensitive exchanges can easily trip a negative emotional outburst that can create yet another conflict, or deepen the intensity of an existing conflict.
These human relating shortcomings significantly contribute to dysfunctional thinking, and dysfunctional thinking is always the precursor to negative feelings towards each other, and dysfunctional relating. This unhealthy dysfunctional thinking/feeling/relating pattern can cause those in relationships to get trapped in a very frustrating cycle of repeating similar conflicts. When trapped in this cycle, individuals experiencing frequent conflicts find themselves repeating the same things to each other, and behaving the same ways to each other, hoping this will somehow resolve the problem. Of course, this does not resolve the problem. Rather, it leads to the Vicious Conflict Cycle illustrated below.
To summarize, repeating conflicts are always caused by negative thinking patterns that cause negative relating patterns. The conflicts that result from this negative-thinking-relating-pattern erode the integrity of the relationship, for these conflicts are rarely fully resolved– and thus repeatedly return and cause much needless strife, uncertainty and anxiety.
This is what happens when we don’t take the time to determine, and then address, the root causes of the conflicts we are experiencing within ourselves, and with each other.
Changing dysfunctional thinking and relating patterns — long-term — is challenging. Because of this, we may find ourselves thinking that relating with others should not be as difficult as it frequently is — and I assure you, it doesn’t need to be. Yet, if we look at the amount of conflict taking place in a world where most of us say we want peace, we have to deeply consider why this dichotomy exists. The current reality of this dichotomy should provide all the evidence we need that a great many of us find attaining true conflict resolution — and consistently relating peacefully and effectively with others — to be very challenging. Yet, it is precisely because learning how to develop long-term, healthy relationships is such a challenge, that overcoming relationship challenges, and learning how to relate in truly heart-centered ways — lead to us experiencing such joy and happiness with each other.