RE­LA­TION­SHIPS Learn a new way to com­mu­ni­cate with loved ones.

TALK­ING AT CROSS-PUR­POSES CAN LEAVE US FEEL­ING MISUNDERSTOOD AND DIS­IL­LU­SIONED. WE NEED TO PUT OUR­SELVES IN SOME­ONE ELSE’S SHOES, SAYS NATALIE LUE

In the Moment - - Contents - NATALIE LUE has been writ­ing her blog www.bag­gagere­claim.com for 13 years and is the au­thor of five books aimed at help­ing peo­ple-pleasers and over­achiev­ers to break un­healthy re­la­tion­ship pat­terns and harm­ful habits. Fol­low her on In­sta @natlue

“Ul­ti­mately, it’s not about get­ting our (or their) way – it’s about find­ing the right way for the

re­la­tion­ship”

Have you ever had a lengthy dis­cus­sion with a part­ner where you think you got your point across, only to later feel as if it went in one ear and out the other? Whether you’re in a rel­a­tively new re­la­tion­ship, or fur­ther down the line, re­peat­edly feel­ing misunderstood can cause prob­lems. We might feel that we prac­ti­cally did a Pow­erPoint pre­sen­ta­tion to drive our point home, or maybe the other per­son even said that they ‘got it’. But then when the same is­sue or feel­ing comes up again, we feel ut­terly baf­fled as to why. This kind of sit­u­a­tion can leave you feel­ing per­plexed, frus­trated or even dis­il­lu­sioned, and of­ten this is the case for your part­ner, too, as they try to fathom what they’ve missed. This is talk­ing at cross-pur­poses. It’s two peo­ple believ­ing that they’re hav­ing a con­ver­sa­tion when, in fact, they’re speak­ing in two di er­ent for­eign lan­guages.

Our abil­ity to com­mu­ni­cate, par­tic­u­larly in a re­la­tion­ship, is cen­tral to how un­der­stood we feel and our sense of con­nec­tion. The more un­seen and un­heard we feel, the more our hopes and ex­pec­ta­tions re­main un­met de­spite our best e orts to com­mu­ni­cate them, and the more likely we are to ques­tion the vi­a­bil­ity of the re­la­tion­ship. Or, we be­come self-crit­i­cal, lead­ing to alien­ation, lone­li­ness and un­hap­pi­ness.

Af­ter the hon­ey­moon pe­riod in a re­la­tion­ship, a power strug­gle some­times en­sues as it be­comes ap­par­ent that each per­son is an in­di­vid­ual en­tity with their own thoughts, feel­ings and habits. Each part­ner gets caught up on how they think the re­la­tion­ship ‘should’ be, as well as how the other per­son ‘should’ act, be­cause it’s less vul­ner­a­ble than both of you sim­ply show­ing up as your­selves and see­ing what hap­pens next.

Speak­ing at cross-pur­poses without real­is­ing it is the re­sult of as­sum­ing that we all ap­proach things with the same moral out­look, the same thought process, the same per­spec­tive.

We’re so used to do­ing things in the way that we’ve al­ways done them that we think what, why and how we feel is ‘right’. We then drive our­selves round the bend say­ing, “If it were me...” when some­body says or does some­thing that doesn’t t with how we roll.

In re­al­ity, we each have our in­di­vid­ual com­mu­ni­ca­tion style – our lan­guage – that we’ve cre­ated and refined from child­hood right through to adult­hood. It’s in­flu­enced by a va­ri­ety of fac­tors, in­clud­ing the com­mu­ni­ca­tion style of par­ents/ care­givers and other key peo­ple in our life, what we feel con dent about, a need for val­i­da­tion, hid­den agen­das, and what we con­sider to be threat­en­ing.

Let’s say that we ob­served our par­ents’ com­mu­ni­ca­tion and dis­cerned that it was based on one drop­ping hints and be­ing pas­sive ag­gres­sive to co­erce the other into do­ing things or be­ing ‘bet­ter’ in the re­la­tion­ship. De­spite our best in­ten­tions, in this case our com­mu­ni­ca­tion in re­la­tion­ships will likely go one of two ways. We’ll ei­ther repli­cate their be­hav­iour, or we’ll over­com­pen­sate for their per­ceived er­rors by in­stead be­ing short and di­rect to try and get what we want. We might not even re­alise we’re do­ing th­ese things – they’re au­to­matic. They be­come such a habit that when we en­counter a sit­u­a­tion that calls them into ques­tion, we be­come de­fen­sive.

Of course, not be­ing able to un­der­stand each other is some­times em­blem­atic of in­com­pat­i­bil­ity: fun­da­men­tal di er­ences in core val­ues (char­ac­ter and the di­rec­tion you’re each head­ing) that, ir­re­spec­tive of any lengthy dis­cus­sions, will re­sult in pulling in di er­ent di­rec­tions. But in other in­stances, it quite sim­ply comes down to recog­nis­ing that we need to get out of our head and stop cling­ing to the pic­ture we’ve painted in our mind. Once we do that, not only will we be able to see where the other per­son is com­ing from, but we can then use this to ex­plain our­selves in a way that they will be able to fully un­der­stand.

The pur­pose of our re­la­tion­ships is for us to heal, grow and learn. If we nd our­selves com­mu­ni­cat­ing in ways that didn’t work for our par­ents, or hint­ing at things rather than as­sertively say­ing them, it might be time for us to let go of the past and learn a new way of com­mu­ni­ca­tion. Un­til we go the dis­tance by clearly speak­ing up for our­selves, we might end up bail­ing on re­la­tion­ships or miss­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties that bring us hap­pi­ness and chances to grow in pos­i­tive ways.

Ul­ti­mately, it’s not about get­ting our (or their) way; it’s about nd­ing the right way for the re­la­tion­ship. Em­pa­thy is crit­i­cal to cre­ate mu­tual love, care, trust and re­spect. We don’t al­ways have to agree, but when each part­ner is open to un­der­stand­ing how some­body ticks, what their mo­ti­va­tions are and even what presses their but­tons, com­mu­ni­ca­tion will come more eas­ily and both will feel seen, heard and val­ued.

TALK IT OUT This month, Natalie shares more wise words about how to stop be­ing a peo­ple-pleaser in our pod­cast. Search ‘In TheMo­ment mag­a­zine’ on iTunes, Spo­tify or Stitcher.

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