Here are the final four steps in assertive communication. Hopefully, these will help with both speaking up and listening.
Provide clarification. If the receiver doesn’t understand what you’re saying, clarify it. However, just because you say things clearly, doesn’t mean that’s how they’ll be heard. If problems persist, make certain that you’re communicating openly and non-defensively and suggest resuming the conversation later if you want.
Create a new opportunity. As long as we’re alive, we can have a follow-up or “recovery conversation” when we’re not satisfied with a prior outcome. First, all parties must agree to this. Next, remember that each person is responsible for approaching the “recovery” conversation in an open-minded, non-defensive way intending to listen and be heard. With this goal, everyone wins.
Ending the conversation. If the other person becomes attacking or abusive, it’s time to stop. If you want, you can offer to have a “recovery conversation” later. Whatever the choice, it’s yours. Being assertive doesn’t mean tolerating abusive behavior or language. It does mean standing up for yourself and setting limits.
Be clear about your intentions. Assertivenes requires admitting to yourself whether you’re genuinely interested in open and honest communication or proving you’re right and other self-serving motives. If intentions aren’t aligned with what’s best for the relationship , you won’t succeed. When aligned, there are limitless possibilities for positive results.
Next week we’ll be discussing the new 7-week self-care challenge starting March 21. If you participated in our October 21-day self-care challenge, we’d appreciate your comments and ideas on how to improve your experience.
Have you noticed lately there’s a lot of news about the chemistry of relationships? I love to think about the reaction between our bodies, brains, and feelings. I was talking to my teenage son about this and he said, “Isn’t that meta-chemistry? How people react to each other? Like metaphysics, only between people.” Yeah, like that.
New research shows that serotonin dips when you feel like you “can’t get enough” of a new love. Dopamine increases in love, which makes you feel just oh so good! Oxytocin, the “cuddle chemical,” not only helps us birth a baby, but it helps us bond and want monogamy, while testosterone makes us want sex. It’s easy to say that women are one way and men are the other, but intimacy doesn’t work well if we forget that men are emotional beings and women are sexual. Thank goodness that metachemistry helps us remember.
Chemistry is also at work when you’re anxious or angry, and your brain, heart, and adrenal system pump out a virtual fireworks display of chemicals. If you can remember that when it’s happening, you might not have to lash out, freak out, or run away. That’s easier when you’ve been taking care of yourself.
Just as stress builds up, self-care and relationship-care add up too, both for the heart that beats in your body and the heart that holds your love. Now, that’s metachemistry!
Totally forgot about V-Day until last week’s post was done. Since this month’s theme is healthy relationships, here’s what poet e.e.cummings says about love.
i carry your heart with me(i carry it in my heart)i am never without it(anywhere i go you go,my dear;and whatever is done by only me is your doing,my darling)
i fear no fate(for you are my fate, my sweet)i want no world(for beautiful you are my world,my true) and it’s you are whatever a moon has always meant and whatever a sun will always sing is you
here is the deepest secret nobody knows (here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows higher than the soul can hope or mind can hide) and this is the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart
i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)
But who is he referring to? A lover, spouse, child, parent or cherished friend? Those we hold most dear in our lives who remain with us in spirit wherever they are. What is most important is that we are loving towards our loved ones even when we feel angry, frustrated, disappointed, or unhappy with something they’ve done. This is what is meant by unconditional love.
Wayne Dyer recounts how he and his wife decided after having the same fight over and over, “It is more important to be kind than be right”. Let’s keep that in mind in all our relationships, carrying each other’s hearts gently with the utmost care.
Last week, we posted the first three aspects of assertive communication: 1)speak openly, honestly and directly; 2)state thoughts and feelings without becoming defensive; and 3)be courteous and respectful. Here are the next four steps.
Exercise timing. Discuss important matters at a time which is good for all involved. Discussions late at night when your partner’s tired or first thing in the morning before they’re fully awake, is not recommended. Make certain you each have the attention and energy for a constructive conversation.
Make clear requests. If there’s something you want, ask for it. Don’t expect others to read your mind. Relationship problems often occur when we don’t take responsibility for expressing our needs. Real intimacy is being able to say what’s on your mind.
Speak from your heart. Make your intention to have a “confiding” conversation even if you feel angry or hurt. Use “I” statements like “I felt angry when I thought you weren’t listening.” Don’t blame or demean the other person. This sets the tone for them to do the same. Whatever they do, practice assertive communication.
Provide clarification. If the receiver doesn’t understand what’s said, offer clarification or restate it. However, even when things are stated clearly, it doesn’t mean that’s how they’ll be heard. Each of us filters what we hear through the lens with which we see the world.
While the goal of assertive communication is to better understand each other, its success is not gaurunteed. Still, it is up to us to create the opportunity for this to occur by communicating assertively.