August 20, 2011
Relationship Checkpoints by Joanne Ladley
Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about relationships. What role do I play in creating the quality of the relationships I enjoy and treasure? And, is that role any different in the relationships that aren’t quite so easily enjoyed? Why are some relationships so frustrating and others so carefree?
The only constant ingredient in a relationship is me. If I’m not part of the equation, I can’t claim the relationship. So I must be the reason some interactions are easier than others, right? As much as I’d like to blame the other person when a conversation goes awry, it probably has more to do with me than with anyone else. Given that, I’ve developed a few checkpoints to ensure I’ve given 100% to the advancement of a healthy interaction.
Stop what you’re doing and honor the other person in this relationship by being with just them. We all pride ourselves on multi-tasking. We think we can’t survive unless we’re able to juggle five different balls which represent very important aspects of our life – our children, our spouses, our jobs, our bosses, our friendships. But think about it, you are only able to do one thing at a time at any one moment. The trick is to learn to be totally with the person or task you’re doing in any particular instant. No interruptions, no distractions, just one thing at a time. With practice, you may learn to move quickly from one person or task to the next. But at any given moment you are only focused on one thing.
Listen, I mean really listen, to what the other person is saying to you. Blank your mind, don’t have your answer ready before he even finishes speaking, don’t interrupt, and look him in the eye while he’s talking. Have you ever sat in silence? If you’re like me, a voice starts talking in your head during silence. It starts to remind you of all the things you have to do and wonders why you’re wasting time listening to nothing. When I’m listening to someone else talk, that voice still comes through sometimes. I’m not sure who that voice is but I do know I have the power to choose to quiet it. I just need to practice listening to only one person at a time.
Follow through on any commitments you’ve made. At the end of a conversation, make sure you know what you promised to do as a follow up. And then do it. And, do it in the timeframe you agreed. Don’t make promises lightly and be very clear what it was you promised to do.
Relationships are not to be taken lightly. If for some reason you betray a relationship, all you can do is hope and trust that the other person will allow you to make it right. If they don’t want to do that, you have very few alternatives. Checking your own role against a few basic habits like the ones listed above honors the esteem you give to another person who is important to you. And when someone else feels as if they’re important, it’s a pretty good foundation for a healthy, reciprocal and exciting relationship.
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