ATTITUDE RECONSTRUCTION: A BLUEPRINT FOR BUILDING A BETTER LIFE
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people-communicating

Did your parents have good communication skills? When I ask people this question, very few say yes. And this is the reason why we don’t communicate very well – we were never taught how, not from our parents, our schools, our peers, or the media.

It seems like it should be so easy. We all want to share ourselves with others. But often our best intentions take a turn for the worse whenever emotions enter the picture. We say one thing and end up communicating another. Differences get magnified. Words get twisted. Good intentions are misinterpreted. Talking escalates into arguing and suddenly we want to attack or flee. This can all result in low self-esteem and confidence. No matter our strategy and how we’ve learned to cope, the result of poor communication is a loss of connection and openness.

According to Attitude Reconstruction, all good communication boils down to following four simple rules. With them, anyone can communicate about any topic effectively and lovingly. There are also four main violations that create the misunderstandings and ensuing hurt, alienation, and confusion that we experience when communicating with others.

      1. The first rule is “talk about yourself.” This is our true domain — sharing what we feel, think, want, and need. Offering personal information brings closeness, as we reveal what’s true for us. The First Violation is to tell other people about themselves (without permission). This includes blame, criticism, sarcasm, teasing, attacking, and finger-pointing. These tactics only create feelings of separation, alienation, and defensiveness. An example of these two styles are “You’re monopolizing the conversation.” vs “I have something I want to say.”
      2. The Second rule is to stay specific. That’s what we do with music, architecture, engineering, cooking, math, physics, and computers; and what we must do when communicating. When we stay concrete others can understand what we’re saying – the topic, the request, the reasons. It brings peace. The Second Violation is over-generalizing. This can take the form of sweeping conclusions, abstractions, and labels, and using words like “always” and “never,” or bringing in other topics only barely related to the subject at hand. This is confusing and it fuels fear. An illustration is: “We always do what you want to do” vs “I don’t want to spend the weekend with your parents.”
      3. The third rule is kindness. Compassion fosters love. It can take the form of offering appreciations, giving praise, focusing on the positive, and sharing what you are grateful for. The Third Violation is being unkind. Focusing on what’s not working, that is, on what we don’t like, throws a blanket on furthering a conversation and produces anger and feelings of separation in the recipient. An example is “I really appreciated when you help with the dishes… laundry, kids, etc.” vs “I have to do everything because you never help around the house.”
      4. The fourth rule is simply to listen. That means seeking to truly understand what someone is saying, and encouraging them to talk. This brings closeness. Listening is a practice. The Fourth Violation is not listening. We know how that feels. Automatic interruptions, debates, and wise-cracks don’t truly acknowledge the speaker but instead further our own agenda.

 

The goal of good communication is understanding and feeling more love, so if we keep that in mind, we’ll be inspired to learn to speak and listen well. Luckily it’s not that hard. It just takes practice as we learn how to stop making the four communication violations and instead follow four simple rules.

The Four Rules of Good Communication are so powerful. They work in the bedroom or boardroom, with children and neighbors, with co-workers and strangers. Here’s the wonderful part: each time we stop ourselves from our old ways and abide by the four rules we feel more powerful, confident, and true to ourselves. Others will understand us better and we can also understand them. All it takes is a little practice, practice, practice and everyone can learn to have consistently effective communication skills.

 

 

communication_relationships

Both men and women have to speak up in order to take charge of their lives and cultivate meaningful relationships!

We don’t speak up for the same general reasons, which include:

  • I don’t want to rock the boat  — I want to keep the status quo
  • I don’t want others to have any emotions – be upset, scared, hurt, mad
  • I don’t want to hear what they have to say because I’m angry and when I’m angry, I’m convinced that my way is clearly the correct way
  • I want to avoid conflict at all cost

We pay a high price by stuffing it — by going silent, stonewalling, and withdrawing. Learn how you can transform your life & relationships.

Where’s my joy? I’ve just not honored myself – unhappy.

Where’s my love? Instead of feeling connected and being part of the collective energy flow, I’m a million miles away – isolated.

Where’s my peace? This moment doesn’t feel safe.

During a session recently, a husband was sitting on the couch with his wife. He was trying to share his health concerns with her. At his first pause, she started giving him nutritional recommendations.

I leaned forward and said to him: “And when she’s giving you her opinion and that’s the last thing in the world you want, with the sweetest most loving voice you can muster, say ‘Honey, I just want to be listened to for a few minutes right now.”

The key is to say it sweetly, lightly and repeatedly until she stops and refocuses on what you were saying.

And what did the guy on the couch say after all that? “That would be new for me!”

At an early age he’d learned to cope by going into his “serious brooding” mode and distancing himself. She hated it when he did that.

What we all really want in our social relationships especially with family members, is to feel good about ourselves, to feel connected/share/feel part of a team, and know we’re safe in our own little tribe. (Attitude Reconstruction contends that these three goals are the three Ultimate Attitudes associated with the three emotions of joy, love, and peace.)

When the other person has coaxed you to talk or you finally speak up about something you know you’ve been avoiding, more joy, love, and peace awaits just by lightly repeating the words…

“I just want to be listened to for a few minutes right now.”

Here are three important points:

  1. This doesn’t mean you get to hold onto the microphone and talk for as long as you want. It’s got to be shared fifty-fifty.
  1. Talk about yourself and what’s going on for you. This isn’t “listen to me while I tell you about you.” For both or all people involved, the focus is you sharing about yourself. That’s how feelings of closeness arise.
  1. When you’ve finished what you want to say, you can solicit other’s impressions, feelings, suggestions, etc. IF you want them.

 

We all just want to be understood, aka listened to – to be seen for “us” as a worthy being.  As scary as it can seem at first, I guarantee that speaking up will bring copious rewards and breakthrough moments. You will be more authentic and your relationship will prosper.

 

listening

It always feels good to have a personal cheerleader so I suggest you find one! Seeking support from another person might take a little courage. Maybe you’ll feel vulnerable, embarrassed, or concerned about imposing. Do it anyway.

Generate a list of possible candidates and choose one. Write out your request first, then feel your fear and dare to ask. If someone declines, don’t take it personally. Just try someone else. Ideally, the person you select will be working on making personal changes too, so you can cheer each other on.

Make contact at the appointed time. Watch out for making excuses not to check in. If you resist, deal with your emotions—shiver, cry or pound, then make the call. You’re both responsible to initiate your check-in, so don’t wait for the other person.

Possible Check-In Format

1. One person talks. The other just pays attention and listens. Set a timer so that you stick to the agreed-upon time each person will have.

2. Switch roles after the timer goes off.

3. Confirm your next check-in time.

4. Exchange appreciations.

The support person’s not there to take charge and tell you what to do. If she has her own stake in your changing, she’ll lose the ability to encourage you when you don’t meet her expectations. You want your cheerleader primarily to listen, look for the positive, and, with your permission, kindly point out attitudes or actions that seem counterproductive. If they’re upbeat, empathetic, congratulatory, and reliable, you’ve found the right person.

Free Communication Class

Mark your calendar!

UPCOMING FREE COMMUNICATION CLASS

Saturday October 19, 2019
Santa Barbara

More Info

Jude Bijou, Author
Jude Bijou is a licensed marriage and family therapist, educator, author, and speaker.  Meet Jude

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Attitude Reconstruction
2012 Benjamin Franklin Award
Winner in Self-Help
2012 ForeWord Reviews
Winner in Psychology
2012 ForeWord Reviews
Winner in Self-Help
2012 International Book Award
Winner in Health: Psychology/Mental Health
2012 Nautilus Silver Award
Winner in Personal Growth/Self Help/Psychology
2012 LA Festival of Books
Winner in How To

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