We were told the secret to a great relationship is all about compromise. Just compromise and it will all work out. Well, great relationships are not based solely on compromise. In fact, I think we have taken the compromise thing too far and turned it into an excuse as to why our relationships are not working. Compromise has become an ugly word. It breeds contempt for others, gives birth to the martyr and ultimately has created great separation in our relationships. When was the last time you felt great about having to compromise your own thoughts, needs, wants or beliefs?
Compromising has become a crutch we lean on so we do not have to do the real work. We no longer even attempt to dig into the root of issues anymore. Instead, we go for the quick fix to appease another to make the tension go away. We compromise from a place of fear, not a place of love or compassion. We compromise to alleviate our fear of losing something or someone. In other words we compromise to avoid the pain we fear. If we continue to act from a place of fear, we will continue to breed more fear until one day our worst fears will ultimately come to life.
It is time to get down to the truth of the matter. It is not in compromising who we are where great relationships are developed. When it comes down to it, the key elements to healthy and fulfilling relationships are about listening and a desire to understand each other. When we listen fully and completely there is no need for compromise. Listening is what gives us the answers we need and the insights into another person we have been longing for. Listening inspires, transforms, gives hope and satisfies our need to connect with others.
People will open up to you when you listen to them. They trust you more with the details. They reveal where they are coming from and why by expressing and putting words to their full perspective. Isn’t that what we all want – to get the full picture? Better yet – YOU want someone to get YOUR full picture. If they would only hear where you are coming from, listen to your perspective, they would understand. Listening is simply the ability to receive and interpret messages. All we need to do is receive the information they are giving us. Listen with open curiousity, no judgement or preconceived agenda and the answers will show up.
Fortunately, there are a 3 key things you can put into place to listen like a pro.
First key is to be present. What does it mean to be Present? When you are present, you are completely, 100% in the moment. You are not concerned with the past and not wandering off into the future. You are allowing the present moment to unfold in front of you. The mind can only focus itself on one thing at a time. You cannot think about what you did or did not do yesterday, figure out what to do for dinner tonight and try to formulate a response and expect to hear the person in front of you speaking. In order to listen anyone completely, you must dedicate your mind to them in that moment.
Second key is to implement your active listening skills. Here are some quick tips and tricks to active listening:
Make eye contact – You outwardly show you are listening to someone by looking at them with our full attention. We also hear more when we look at people as they speak. Parents know this and instruct their children to stop and look at them if they need to tell them something important. What we focus on and give our attention to shows others what is most important to us.
Posture – Your body language communicates just as loud and clear as the words you use. Engage in active listening by adjusting your posture in a way that helps you understand the message. Sit up straight and lean slightly toward the person speaking. NOTE: This simple adjustment not only encourages the other person to speak, but also activates your abilities to be attentive and present.
Mirroring is the ability to connect with someone non-verbally. Have you ever watched couples or best friends in conversation? They almost look like they are dancing with each other as the conversation progresses they both move in harmony with each other. This dance-like conversation is showing a deep level of trust and comfort. You can practice mirroring by paying attention to their movement and leaning in when they lean in or sitting back when they sit back. It is not necessary to mirror every movement, that would be creepy. Pay attention and pick one thing that seems natural. As you practice and develop the skill of being present, mirroring will become a natural part of all your conversations.
The third and most important key to be a pro at listening is to be curious. When you are curious, you are opening mind and heart to another person. You are present, in the moment, and expressing a genuine interest in the details. You are seeking to know more so you can really understand. Your ears suddenly hear with greater clarity as they pick up each word. You see the message for what it is, from their point of view. There is no judgement, no reason to be offended, no anger or hurt feelings. You both walk away feeling a real connection, all because you chose to be curious.
At our core, we all want to be happy, we all want to feel heard and understood. We all want the best for our loved ones and are willing to do whatever we need to make those things happen. Listening allows you to make those things happen on a regular basis. You will be able to hear the message the other person is communicating and you will understand what they need in that moment. As you lead the way by being present and engaging with curiosity, you are teaching others how to be better listeners. In other words, you will be come the example for others to follow.