I can’t appreciate the good when I am focused on the bad.
My friends Ralph and Robin were talking about their relationship. Both were majoring on each other’s minuses, that is focusing on the bad stuff. Blaming and rebuttal were pervasive. When one said something negative about the other, it was disregarded and met with an equal or more severe retort. You can see where this is going. Yes, it will end with very hurt feelings. Both will feel misunderstood, unheard, and resent each other even more. Does this sound familiar? The conversation degraded rapidly. The problem with a conversation like this is that it always ends with the "Achilles Heel comment." The showstopper. The statement that causes the emotions to hit a crescendo and the two walk away, with mumbling comments, “You’re a____________.” OUCH!
It's a treacherous path to be able to share grievances in a way that leads to closeness. To get someone to hear what they don’t want to hear is sometimes so impossible that we give up. Little do we know that when we give up on this transaction, we are giving up on the relationship. It is so unapparent at the time and yet so predictable. It may take weeks, months, years, or even decades for this to occur.
As I have posted before, this is where defensiveness, anger, and attack is spawned, and the crash occurs.
Sharing grievances must be controlled so that it doesn’t get lost in the emotions. This is difficult and can sometimes be more effectively conveyed in written form. There must be some kind of buffer that doesn’t allow an automatic emotional response.
It is so necessary to be clear about what is desired before this kind of conversation takes place. The more you can talk about yourself, the less charged the conversation will be.
In my office, I slow the conversation down. I ask Robin to state one grievance about Ralph. Then I ask Ralph what he heard Robin say. If she thought, he heard her correctly then Ralph would state a grievance he had with Robin. Robin then repeats what she heard him say. If it was correct, she would continue with her next grievance. If Ralph did not think she heard it accurately he would restate it and Robin would say what she heard. This would be repeated until all of the grievances were properly expressed and heard.
This is a controlled exercise and should be done under supervision. What makes this process effective is there is no discussion or explanation about a grievance. This is almost impossible without a mediator to keep them on track.
The next step is to state what they appreciate about each other. This same process is repeated identifying good things about the other. It continues until all that they appreciate has been stated.
It is amazing what happens when we can slow down the conversation so that each can feel heard. I believe two people in a healthy relationship do not want to do or say things that hurt the other. Some grievances are so significant that they cannot be overcome and are fatal to the relationship; however, airing their grievances can strengthen the relationship. It induces a resonant harmony that fuels understanding, joy, freedom, and connection. This shows the importance of identifying and removing the bad so that the good can be shared and appreciated.
Are you looking for the good? If not, why not?
Is majoring on each other’s minuses working for you and the relationship?
Watch for the blind spots.
Please comment, like, and share, I appreciate your input.
You can get a copy of my book below.
Blind Spots in Relationships
What I don't know I don't know about Myself
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