Monday, September 23, 2013

Listen and learn

When you communicate with your partner or another loved one, do you enter the conversation with the intent to learn or to protect? It makes a huge difference.

Communication is a large part of life—whether it's with a significant other, a friend or with a neighbor or coworker. How you approach the conversation matters. This is especially true in a relationship that's experiencing conflict or facing a difficult topic.

As an Enneagram 8, I'm extremely conscious of my desire to protect myself from control or intrusion. It's extremely important for an Enneagram 8 personality to protect herself and determine her own course in life. However helpful that can be to my autonomy and authenticity, it can also be damaging to relationships when I don't permit myself to be truly open to the other person—and to hearing what he has to say or to learning from her.

Do you find yourself wary in conversations with some of the important people in your life? Are you in a protection mode? See how different communication might be when you approach those people with the intent to learn more about what they are feeling and how they are seeing things. It can open you both up to a new depth in your relationship. That said, there will be some people in your life who cannot be trusted with some of your information—and it's always important to be aware of protecting yourself in those cases.

Some forms of communication today (email, texting and even voicemail) complicate our communication process. When you cannot see someone's facial expressions or even hear the voice inflections, misunderstandings are that much more possible. It's good for you and me to take extra care with all our communications. Conversations can be a gateway to self-knowledge and to knowing others more deeply—or they can be a doorway to disappointment and conflict. These days I'm trying to listen and learn. It opens up so many more possibilities in my relationships.

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