Perceiving your partner as your enemy never heals the relationship.
Knowing who the real enemy is, will heal the relationship and give it new life.
Communication assumptions are the true enemy. Search and destroy! Miscommunication, past experiences, family and social influences, opinions, religious beliefs (not to be confused with a spiritual relationship with your Creator) and other filters, all come into play when confronted with an emotional situation between two people.
Throughout history, wars have been fought and innocents have died because of the differences in opinions, cultures, and beliefs. Unfortunately, this will always be present on the Earth and affect mankind with devastating results.
However, this doesn’t have to be the case when it comes to a struggling marriage, partnership or relationship with a challenging friend.
That which challenges us is always the most painful when there is more risk involved. Investing in a romantic relationship, or a marriage, a business partnership or a friendship has required much time and effort to create. What most of us fail to realize, however, is that if that relationship is built on assumptions, and those assumptions are never realized or exposed for what they were (unrealistic expectations) then the foundation for your relationship has been built on shaky sand.
There isn’t one relationship that hasn’t been shaken by the storms of life! People change, situations change and events change in the world around us. To expect that things will remain the ‘same’ as they were is a foolish assumption and can be a deadly one – to your relationship, your sanity, and your identity.
“The way things were” usually is a referral to what you had HOPED they would be (unrealistic expectations) not to the truth of what they were.
Accepting “what is” helps you to identify the truth about where you are as an individual, where your relationship is, what results you are getting, and who you are involved in a relationship with. Blaming another individual for what you have participated in is victim-mentality. What you have participated in – is life. It’s a long string of choices, actions, and assumptions made by both parties. Each of these assumptions presents a choice and each party has made a choice based upon their perceptions.
In order to change ‘what is’, one must be willing to change their perceptions. The first step to take in searching out these deadly communication assumptions is to ask clarifying questions.* Questions such as, “What did you mean by that? Can you tell me more about that?” (without sarcasm or an accusatory tone, of course) will help you.
Stop making assumptions regarding what is being communicated– identify the true motives and intentions of the other person by asking clarifying questions. Listen carefully whether they are placing blame by pointing to you or outside influences or trying to communicate about a problem they see (or perceive.) Identify your own true motives and intentions first. Be realistic – not accusatory.
Negative tapes are the assumptions from other people who have communicated to you what their perceptions were in regards to who you were/are as a person, and to what your motives were/are. You not noticing them, or doing anything about them running in your mind, is the same thing as being in agreement with them – even if you know they are a lie!
When we believe negative things about us, we will behave and communicate in a certain manner to attract situations and people into our lives that will confirm what we believe. Our nature fears being wrong more than pain – so we would rather believe that our perceptions are right – than to admit they weren’t, and change them.
Asking yourself better questions is the first step to asking better questions of your partner. If your goal is to have a healthy relationship – whether in marriage, friendship or business, you have to begin by asking clarifying questions to get to the bottom of what you think is true – whether it is or not.
Once you see the truth of a matter and what you are perceiving, then you can change those perceptions.
Sample Clarifying Questions to help you avoid those communication assumptions:
- “What’s your point?”
- “Do you really believe that?”
- “What do you believe?”
- “What do you need?”
- “Where did you want to go with that?”
- “How does that get you to where you want to go?”
- “Why is that important to you?”
- “When will you know that everything is alright in your world?”
- “When will you know you’ve got that?”
- “What did you hear me say?”
- “What did you think I said?”
- “How would you like to resolve this?”
- “What will it take to make ______ go away or resolve itself?”
- “Where would you like to go from here?”
- “How would you like to handle that?”
- “How does that make you feel?”
- “What do you think about that?”