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If you want people you care about to understand you and what you are feeling and what you need, it’s always best to say it directly and ask specifically for what you want. Therefore, for my relationship tip #22 let me share some useful tips to help you assure people around you that they are hearing specifically what you want and want them to hear:
1. Don’t assume that people can read your mind. Sometimes we think everyone thinks and feels like we do and we ASSUME that they know what we are thinking and feeling and wanting or that their behaviors mean what they would mean if we did or said the same thing. A typical example of this is that most girls grow up learning to show support by doing things for the other person and asking questions. If she’s upset she thinks that if people really care they will ask questions and try to do nice things for her and if they don’t they must not care.
2. Don’t play games with people’s heads and hearts. Sometimes this is intentional meanness and sometimes it is passive dependent “testing” of another person. Some people like to “play” with people and do and say things that keep others feeling “less than” or insecure and doubting themselves. Some people set up “tests” for others to see if they really care without letting them know what the test is or what’s at stake.
3. Don’t tell people half-truths and expect them to trust you. If you are too scared or embarrassed to tell the whole truth you risk losing the trust of those you half-lie to. If people can’t say no, how do you trust their yes?
4. Don’t ignore people you care about. Sometimes perceiving a lack of concern and being ignored can be as painful as harsh words.
5. Ask the hard questions and keep on asking them. If you want an honest and open relationship it’s always best to start there with the expectation of sharing. Don’t wait for someone to share their difficult stories. By asking with compassion you can show an openness to people having had bad experiences or behaviors and believing they can change. Listen to what they say and how they say it and see if it fits for what you see them doing.
6. Model the kind of communication you want to have in a long term relationship. This will help attract people who share your values and deter the others.
7. Be open to finding out who they really are. It isn’t fair or respectful to make up a fantasy about who you think someone is and then be mad at them for being different. Keep your eyes open!
8. Speak the truth. Many of us learned to lie or avoid truth or rewrite it in order to avoid shame or anger. Practice being honest even though there might be consequences. Honesty allows us to be authentic in relationships and earn trust.
9. Be kind. Practice living a life of full respect for yourself and others. You can be honest and have healthy boundaries even if you’re committed to full respect living.
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