Relationships and Communication
We’re spicing things up this week with our first blog on skills that can help to improve and create positive relationships. Relationships and Communication. These skills include listening, showing appreciation and offering forgiveness. We will release a second blog around tips to de-stress relationships (which can never go amiss after a hard day’s sailing!).
Learning to listen (really listen) is the single best thing we can do to improve our relationships. Active listening is about paying attention to what the other person is saying, really trying to hear and understand what they’re saying and reflecting this back to them.
Step 1) Pay attention to what is being said. If you are unable to concentrate, it’s much better to let them know this rather than pretending to listen.
Step 2) Show them you are paying attention and hearing what is being said. There are lots of ways to do this, here are a few suggestions:
Paraphrasing/summarising back what they have said to check understanding e.g.
‘‘So it sounds like you’d like to spend more quality time together, is that right?’’
Verbal feedback which involves saying things like “sure,” “yeah,” ‘’mhm’’.
Non verbal feedback like giving eye contact, nods and using facial expressions.
Validation is always helpful, showing you agree or are at least sympathetic to their point of view by saying things like “I understand”, “you’re right”, “exactly”, “that’s understandable,” and “I see what you mean.” If you don’t agree with what’s being said, you can still validate their feelings, for example ‘’I can see how that was really frustrating for you.”
Step 3) See the other person’s point of view through empathy, putting ourselves in the other person’s shoes and trying to understand why they might think/feel/act the way they do. Remember that as humans, we have a natural tendency to find negative reasons for the behaviour of others. This is evolutionary, something we call a negative bias and it is what has kept us safe/alive for thousands of years. Our very survival depended on our ability to dodge danger, so our brains are much better at attending to negative input or potential threats. Here’s a nice video that summarises this: The Happiness Trap: Evolution of the Human Mind.
There are lots of ways to show appreciation to another person. Here are some ideas:
Giving and receiving compliments can be really great way of building a positive relationship. However, it is important that the compliments we give are genuine and not over-exaggerated. It can be good to actively look for positives in the people around us and once identified, let that person know the positive you notice in them. When it comes to receiving compliments, whilst they can be a little uncomfortable to accept at times, try to think of a compliment as a small gift – you wouldn’t want to reject a gift in case it came across as rude/ungrateful. You may want to reply something like: “Wow, I don’t really see myself in that way, but thank you for saying it!”
Expressing Gratitude by letting the other person know that we appreciate what they bring to our lives. We notice these things a lot, but often forget to let people know! We will be compiling another blog around gratitude exercises but the simplest way to do this is to take a few moments to think about why you are grateful for that person and tell them, or write them a letter. Thinking about how they have contributed to your life, why they are important to you and the impact they have had on how you see yourself.
Finally, we have forgiveness; a power tool we’ve all needed to employ at times to maintain and nurture our relationships. It is important to forgive others for real or perceived betrayals, breaches of trust or hostility. Pretending to forgive but continuing to hold a grudge can really damage a relationship (and our own well-being!). Forgiveness is not always an easy thing to do and it’s important to remember that it is not the same as approving of hurtful behaviour, it is not ‘rolling over’ or ‘being a doormat’. Forgiveness is acknowledging that another person has hurt you and choosing to forgive and let go. You can communicate to the person that they have hurt you but that you have chosen to forgive, ultimately releasing yourself from negative emotions to move forward.
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