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Bridging the Divide: Creating Connection in Communication

December 7, 2014

 
At the Heart of Good Communication

 

Most people would say that the key to healthy loving relationships is good communication. Agreed. But what supports good communication?

 

It strikes me that quality communication is less about the words we chose and more about the perspective we live in when we share our words.

 

Illuminating Polarities

 

With the Full Moon in Gemini today it's a great time shine a light on the significance of polarizing perspectives in our communication. Black and white doesn’t have to be right versus wrong. It could just be two different colors. Two colors that work well together.

 

Time together versus time apart. Security versus freedom. Masculine versus feminine. Practicality versus spirituality. Vulnerability versus defensiveness.

 

Choosing Support over Conflict

 

What if we intentional replaced the notion of versus with supports. Connection supports space. Space supports connection. Security supports freedom. Freedom supports security. And so on.

It can help to wrap your mind around this notion of polarities supporting each other by looking at the relationship between sleep and exercise. Sleep and exercise can’t happen at the same time. They are in many ways opposing experiences. But good sleep rejuvenates and gives us the energy to exercise well and good exercise can help us expend excess energy and sleep better at night.

 

These opposites support another. The same could be said about security and freedom. And a host of other polarities.

 

Some classic relationship arguments could benefit immensely if we intentionally chose a perspective that acknowledges how two seemingly opposing experiences support one another.

Here’s an example:

 

Jeanie feels like she isn’t getting enough connection time with her man Tom. Tom feels like he isn’t getting enough space to do his own thing, like play his guitar and surf.  They talk, hoping to get their needs met. But from the versus perspective it’s one person’s needs versus another person’s needs and the conversation will go nowhere.

 

If she’s convinced that his solo time takes away from their together time and if he’s convinced that her need for connection is a threat to his need for space, then the communication can easily turn into an argument.

 

As long as somebody is fixed to a x versus y stance, then no amount of words will lead them to a happy solution.

 

On the other hand, if they can make their way to the perspective that togetherness supports autonomy and autonomy supports togetherness then a whole new conversation can arise.

 

In this perspective Jeanie might see and appreciate how much Tom’s music and surfing enlivens him.  She would know that an enlivened version of Tom adds to the quality of their time together. If he could feel her support for his alone time, then he would likely be more drawn to spend time with her, knowing that he didn’t have to give up what’s dear to him in order to connect.

 

Living in this perspective Jeanie might say, “Sweetie, I know your music and surfing lights you up. So I want to support you to get that time for yourself. I also want you to know that I love spending time with your lit up self, so I hope we can also make that happen.”

 

In this same ideal world Tom would understand that regularly expressing his love and appreciation for Jeanie would help her feel more secure in the relationship.  The more she felt secure in the relationship the more she could find space inside herself to support Tom to do his own thing. With this perspective guiding his words her heart can trust that they’re fundamentally together even when they were apart.

 

Through this lens Tom might text a love note while on a surfing excursion that says, “Hi Love, So grateful for our time together last night. The beach amazing right now. Wish you could see this beautiful ocean. Can’t wait to be with you again soon.”

 

Questions for You

 

Where does your communication fall into polarizing and conflictual loops?

 

What notions of x versus y can be found underneath your less than stellar conversations?

 

Can you learn to appreciate how x might support y and how y might support x?

 

What would you say to your loved one from this place?

 

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