Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Building Relationships That Last for a Lifetime or Longer

by Carrie Wrigley

Wednesday – Communication: Strategies That can bring you together rather than pull you apart
There has never been a better time to learn how to build relationships that we can use to learn in practical ways how to communicate and appreciate each other.

In the gospel we have the lofty beautiful principles - be ye therefore perfect - that can be discouraging in regular life. Seek learning by study and also by faith - find secular resources and also through the Holy Ghost. If secular wisdom matches concepts in spiritual resources, then we can trust it.

Communication - strategies that bring you together rather than pull you apart.

Communication is the top concern for people in therapy.

The distance in relationships comes from "I know what I need, but it isn't what you need, and you don't understand my need." It creates an impasse in the middle of a very natural process.

Thy watchmen shall lift up their voice because they see eye to eye - Isaiah scripture. Seeing eye to eye happens through communication.

Poor communication is telling what you see and then trying to convince the other person that that is right. That they have to see it that way.

D&c 130:2 - the same sociality with eternal glory.

The same relationship, the same personalities, the same communication skills we have here is what we will have on resurrection morning. Nothing magically changes when we die. Alma 34 - this life is the time to prepare so we can have relationships we will want to have forever.

Essential resources for effective long-term relationships
1. Positive time. Invested, focused time.
2. Effective communication.
The more time you spend together the more you need strategies to understand and communicate well.

Ephesians 4:29-32 - no corrupt communication, just edification, bring grace. No anger, evil speaking, be kind, tender hearted, forgiving.

D&c 136:23-24 - cease to contend, speak evil, drunkenness on anger, edify

Edify means to build. Use language to builds positive solution, makes people feel better about themselves. Language that is critical hurtful and tears down, we are destroying relationships.

The quality of the communication determines the quality of a relationship.

You can't not communicate. More is communicated by not saying anything - most of our language is body language, less by vocal tone, the least is the actual words you use.

Body language is incredibly communicative, and can either build up or tear down.

The key to communication is having the right heart, the right feelings and honesty. Communication works best if you can say what you are thinking and feeling, from a clean, pure, honest heart. Its not just skills. Speaking the truth in love.

Building blocks of negative communication
1. Truth - I’m right, you're wrong, my job is to convince you
2. Blame - it's all your fault
3. Martyrdom - poor me, I’m a victim
4. Put downs
5. Hopelessness - why even try
6. Demandingness - my way now!
7. Denial - I’m not angry/hurt/sad
8. Passive aggressiveness - silent darts, pretending everything’s okay
9. Self-blame
10. Helping - let me fix that for you
11. Sarcasm - "sit-com"-munication
12. Defensiveness and counter-attack

The first 3 minutes predict the final course of a conversation:
Harsh start-up never ended well
Softened start-up more likely to solve problem and end with relationship strengthened

Examples of criticism:
Labeling - you're such a
Generalizing - you never, you always, you only think
That’s harsh

Criticizing - generalizing your displeasure to a widespread negative view of the person's basic character or motivation system. Escalates the problem, feels like character assassination, inviting defensiveness, emotional flooding, emotional withdrawal, with no solution.

Relationship problems are almost always circular. This person did this, but they blame that, who blames him back for that other thing, who blames back because of something else.

Complaining - expressing displeasure about a specific event or behavior that you'd like to see changed. Can be resolved by specific, respectful solutions developed together.

Don't ignore large problems.

The goal - communication that is
1. Effective
2. Respectful

We may not agree, but I see what you see and you see what I see. See that there is validity to each other's points. I honor and validate and see as just as real and just as important what I'm experiencing.

The feeling good handbook by David Burns, the best handbook ever.

Communication has two properties
You express your feelings openly and directly.
And you encourage the other person to express his or her feelings.
The ideas of both people are important.

Matt 22:39 - love neighbor as thyself. You don't get full picture of puzzle until you put his pieces with her pieces.

The communication process
Sender and receiver
Message goes from sender to receiver, what they are feeling about specific situation
Receiver reflects back what they heard
Sender either confirms or corrects until receiver can tell exactly what the sender means. Then they switch.

Ineffective communication, two senders no receivers. No one accepts receiver role. Everyone wants to prove their point and prove the other person wrong.

Is someone catching the message?

Effective listening skills
Listen to understand, don't listen to respond.
Seek first to understand, then to be understood.
Add nothing to your reflection. Just mirror back and validate what the speaker said to you.

Effective speaking skills
Speak in digestible chunks, in sentences not pages.
Use I messages, not you messages.
Be clear, but be kind. The point is to be heard and understood. Don't put the listener on the defensive.

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