I’ve had many moments of clarity over the past few months. One of them has to do with connections.
During the pandemic I missed connecting with others. As the world returns to normal I find myself awestruck by small things that I took for granted before, like enjoying a meal at a restaurant, going to a concert or inviting friends over for dinner. This feeling is a true testament to the importance of connections.
As you spend more time with others this summer, remember how essential these connections are to our well-being and at the same time how complex and difficult relationships can be. I invite you to remember the importance of:
We think that we are being clear, but very often the other person has no idea what we need from them. Many of my clients who are frustrated in their personal or professional relationships have not clearly articulated their specific needs. They want to be acknowledged and respected but have no clarity on what will make them feel that way.
What is clarity? Clarity has two important components:
Clarity from within
Clarity of our message
CLARITY FROM WITHIN
We need to know ourselves first before we can effectively communicate with others.
Clarifying our values, strengths, triggers and needs is constant work.
If we don’t know what we need, others will have no idea how to give it to us.
Start by asking yourself:
- What am I feeling and what are my feelings trying to tell me?
- Why do certain comments trigger me?
- What do I need from specific relationships?
- What specific actions or behaviours could I ask for?
CLARITY OF OUR MESSAGE
One of the biggest communication challenges is in the way we process information. I love this diagram from the late Judith Glaser that helps us understand how we process information.
We hear something that creates a biological reaction which then creates a feeling. That feeling then goes through filters of assumptions, interpretations, thoughts, beliefs and past experiences and – only then – we create a conclusion about what we heard. This all happens in milliseconds and we are unaware that we are doing it.
The fact that we all go through this process when in conversation with others underscores the importance of being clear. A few things to remember when having important conversations with others:
- Talk about the problem rather than the person. If you start with blame the other person will stop hearing you and start defending themselves. If you talk about the problem as something that we all need to work on, a real conversation will take place.
- Talk about how the problem is affecting you and the impact it is having on you. Remember to use the fantastic “I” statement.
- Be sure that the other person understood what you said in the way you wanted them to understand it.Ask the other person to tell you what they heard so that you can be sure you explained yourself properly. Then restate what you heard from them. This allows you to be sure that everyone understood as intended.
- Ask for what you need in a very specific way. The more specific the better!
Others don’t know what you need. What I need is not what you need. We are all different!
I invite you to enjoy the opportunities to reconnect with others during the summer months. Take the time to understand what you are feeling and what you need and be very clear and specific about what you are asking for.