Thursday, September 12, 2013

Check out your communication 'dance'

Lately I've been thinking a lot about relationships and communication. It's so easy to get into strange and unhelpful communication patterns in our friendships and other significant relationships, isn't it? That being true, it's good to stop and take a look at those patterns. They really can be changed, if both (or all) parties want to have more effective communication.

I just got an audio book from my local library that I highly recommend. It's Hold Me Tight by Dr. Sue Johnson. Johnson, a research professor and professor of clinical psychology, discusses many of the typical dances we do in conversation with one another. Her focus is on couples, but the information definitely is useful for any relationship that matters in your life. She bases her work on research she has done to show that we all long for connection with others. We want to know we matter to others.

For example, one person in a relationship may be the one who reaches out and initiates things, whether conversations or activities. And the other person may be one who tends to withdraw. When the one who reaches out gets no response from the one who withdraws, she may push harder—and in so doing, push away even further the one who withdraws. You can just see the outcome of such a dance.

It's fascinating to me to think about my style and how that plays out with the different essential relationships in my life. I can see places to tweak my style, and I notice places where real change is needed. Because I'm a lifelong learner, this type of thing jazzes me. I know it will enrich and deepen the friendships and relationships I have. I have no doubt that a few changes here and there will make my relationship connections even more positive and joyful.

Have you looked at your communication dances lately? What do you see? Smooth waltzes? Jerky cha-chas? Perhaps it's time for some tweaking. Or even some new music!

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