How do you relate? Peas in a pod: All relationships share likenesses, whether they are at work or at home, yet we often relate differently in different situations and with different people. By becoming aware of what all relationships have in common, as well as acknowledging how we all differ, we can choose to communicate more effectively with everyone, creating an interaction where your needs, wants and styles are united with theirs. You may read this with a particular relationship in mind; it is equally applicable to use it to consider how you relate to people generally and what effect that has.
1. Let’s start with the most important aspect… you!
If you have a strong sense of who you are, self-belief and an awareness of what’s important to you, you are in a far more solid position to communicate, compromise and relate flexibly with others without fears of losing yourself or compromising who you are. So appreciate who you are and what you represent so you can remain true to yourself.
Additionally, understand what is within your control. If you are expecting to control others with your behaviors, you are setting yourself up for disappointment and issues within any relationship. Know that you can only control yourself and the way you interact with others, that way, you have the choice to adjust how you relate to reach a result that means you are both happy. Gain a strong sense of self.
2. What’s so important?
What is important to you and the other person(s)? Family? Freedom? Security? Health? Achieving? Loyalty? Outstanding customer service? Space?…….
Our values are deep rooted within us and make up a huge part of who we are, so what someone else considers important is important to them, the same as your values are equally important to you. The more your values are aligned with the other persons and you share similar beliefs, the closer the bond tends to be. Yet recognizing that something means a lot to the other person, even if it is less important to you, and by providing space and respect for that value, demonstrates both that THEY and your relationship are important to you, and that you have the flexibility to respect them for who they are. It is not necessary to agree on everything, but by giving the other person space and acceptance to have their views and abide by what is important to them you are sharing other core values like significance, honesty and acceptance. Share and accept each other’s values and beliefs.
3. Communication Styles
We all prefer to communicate and be communicate to differently. This can create interesting conversations where we can literally be talking another language to each other even though we’re speaking English. You will have noticed it before; someone you are talking to just isn’t getting what you are describing until you draw them a diagram or ‘show’ them what you mean. People tend to process information differently, and as such, prefer and process easier with one of the following communication styles: visual, auditory, kinesthetic (sensory feelings or emotions) or by talking it over in their head and gaining an understanding of things. Suffice to say, if you get a sense that the way you are communicating with someone isn’t working, try something else. I frequently hear people describe issues with their partner where they tell them daily that they love them, yet the partner is not hearing them, they need to be ‘shown’, or be given affection such as hugs in order to feel loved. Communicate in a style that works.
4. Personality Style
Similarly to the way we process information differently by pictures, feelings, sounds etc., we also perceive the world and the information around us differently. Some of us like all the details, yet others want the big picture. Some people live by the rules, others consider they are there to be broken and look for other options. Fitting in and comparing things with similar experiences are common for some people whereby others look for the differences and are great at troubleshooting, but perhaps less helpful when you need to get something done and they are pointing out all the pitfalls!
These differences (and many more) are what help make us unique from each other and are natural preferences that we all have. People are not being different from you on purpose, or to make your life more challenging; it’s just the way they are, just as you are to them! The more we can come to recognize how others see (or hear, feel or make sense) of the world differently, the better we can accept and find even better ways to relate.
5. What do you expect as the boundaries?
It goes without saying that what we expect from each other goes a long way towards whether we are happily surprised by the person or bitterly disappointed. Equally, if we don’t know what the others expectations are of us, how on earth can we ever be sure whether we are fulfilling them. Expectations occur within different timeframes, meaning that some are immediate or short term, such as getting a project finished or a partner chipping in to help cook the dinner you’ve both had hard day at work. We also have far more long-term expectations like what you expect out of a partner, parent, or friend, whether you expect to have children, or how your boss will assist you with your career pathway,
These can be better defined by becoming clear about your and the other person’s roles and the underlying rules that make up the relationship. What are the boundaries and what do you both want and expect?
If these expectations are not discussed or made extremely apparent, we operate in the dangerous territory of assumptions. Manage expectations.
6. Why assume?
Assumptions, we all make them; each and every one of us secretly carries a crystal ball in our back pocket that we use regularly to guess what someone is thinking, why they did something or what they want! How often does that end up being incorrect? So by being more explicit about wants, feelings and thoughts in a relationship makes it easier for both people to meet that requirement rather than guessing incorrectly.
Similarly, people fall in the trap of telling people what they did wrong, what they don’t want – leading to conflict or withdrawal within a relationship, assuming that the other person knows what you want instead (if, in fact you know yourself!). Give that other person an opportunity to do right by you; tell them what you want/need instead.
So if you are reaching for that crystal ball when relating to others, put in back in your pocket and just ask them. If you are truly unable to do that, walk in their shoes as them for a bit, you stand a closer chance of guessing right!Avoid mind reading, guessing and crystal balls…. just ask!
7. Is the load shared equally?
Have you had relationships or friendships where you are putting in all the legwork and eventually come out emotionally drained? It may take you a while to notice it as rescuing others can be enticing for a while! It brings with it a sense of being needed, belonging, significance…. you can fill in the gaps. Yet over the long-term your needs are not being met unless the roles reverse intermittently or there is a more harmonious balance. The best and most successful relationships are based upon mutual contribution for it to be worthwhile to both parties long-term.
8. Who are you together?
When you consider the result of your partnership, what comes out of it? Who is that entity that is the two of you combined? Are you the on the same side, sharing in your collective successes and pulling together when need be? Are you greater than the sum of the two parts? Take time to recognize the strengths that your partnership brings. When you are together, that’s like what?
By finding a way to collectively explore expectations, needs, wishes, values, beliefs, roles, responsibilities and a unified identity in all differing relationships, you will create a bond and unity that develops into a third entity, the sum of both your parts. When you consider how many differing relationships we have within various contexts of our lives, the chemistry we create with others and all the differing entities we are part of world is quite remarkable. It is that, that connects us to others and the world!