Relationships: Effective Communication | Elegant Navigation
Part 1: The Problem (1346 words. Average reading time: 6 minutes)
In the global marketplace of cultures, ideas, relationships, and business strategies, we can no longer say that there is one way to “do relationships” or that there is an “is-ness” to what form they should take.
There simply is no global—or even local—consensus around relationships—if there ever was.
Whether we are speaking about arranged marriages still common on the other side of the globe in India, gay marriages—legal in some countries and some U.S. States or other alternative forms of relating from polyamory, or other non-traditional, non-monogamous relationship forms, we can certainly say that what is considered an acceptable form of relating is massively expanding in scope.
Whether you agree or disagree with those life-style choices, it is undeniable that the very idea of relationship is in evolution both morally and culturally. Not to mention in practicality—in form.
And yet …
And yet, most people still cannot seem to even navigate the waters of traditional relationships with facility and elegance. Even many friendships are not always fulfilling and conflicts are rarely navigated effectively—if at all. Sadly, many marriages and intimate romantic relationships often hobble along until people are just in a habit, not a relationship. They’re still “together” on the surface, but the reality, truth, intimacy, and dynamism faded—or died—long ago.
They are in a habit, not an actual relationship.
There are certainly exceptions to this. Both in relationships and in society as a whole. We have individuals and small “intentional” communities who have it as one of their stated values to become facile at navigating the waters of relationships—including conflicts and misunderstandings that arise, as well as their internal, individual, personal emotional upset or “charge” that comes along with it—with skill, ease, and a good degree of elegance.
But even after more than 40 years of the rise and expansion of the human potential movement, these are exceptions, not rules. Heck, they are often not even expected standards, let alone the rule.
But it could be so.
We can all have fulfilling, harmonious relationships. Even in conflict, there are philosophical approaches as well effective communication models that, if take on, can fulfill on this possibility—and make it a reality.
So…what are they?
First, let’s look at some of the common problems that arise. And then, together, we will examine some simple solutions.
Many of dynamics within inter-personal problems and/or conflicts can be summed up thusly:
- A belief that relationships are “supposed to take work” or “supposed to be hard”
- Dishonesty. Dishonesty in at least two ways
- Deceit—actual lying
- Hiding the truth—not just of facts, which we will lump in with the above, but of our internal, subjective experience. Our process. And what is going on for us.
- Blaming others for our circumstances or the situation AND
- Failing to take responsibility for our part in a conflict or misunderstanding
- Simply meaning two different things—or interpreting something in two different ways—that are in conflict unknowingly until the it causes a conflict explicitly and openly
- An egoic need to “be right” put before a search for truth and accuracy
- A lack of emotional choice or facility [being run by our anger, fear, anxiety, guilt, resentments etc.]
- A lack of knowledge around how to effectively communicate through a conflict—a lack of a positive, effective, workable model
- A lack of skillful means with those models
- A collision of values/world-views that are in conflict
Why are people dishonest? Several reasons seem to occur most frequently:
- We do not want to “rock the boat”
- We do not want to hurt someone’s feelings by telling them the truth [even though, in reality, most people can handle the truth, it is the deception or the hiding that causes the true hurt once revealed or discovered
- Fear—fear of being judged, fear of being alone, fear of being rejected, or just plain fear of speaking the truth directly.
Why do people blame others? Oh, so many reasons, but a few common reasons are:
- It’s just easier to point the finger outside of oneself than it is to take responsibility—even when oneself is more “to blame”.
- We do not have solid enough sense of self to take responsibility without going into a state of shame—and therefore avoid doing so
- We have fault and blame collapsed with responsibility
Why do people resist—sometimes at great cost interpersonally and in terms of intimacy—taking responsibility?
Sadly, people think that responsibility equals blame or fault, but they are actually separate matters. Responsibility really means just that—being able to respond. To engage. To resolve. To accept your part in it. When they collapse fault and blame with taking responsibility, they avoid it like the plague, lest they experience guilt and/or shame around it. Unfortunately, the other person in the equation is often all too willing to assist the other in feeling guilt or shame for egoic reasons—or to extract their pound of flesh, their pint of blood.
While I certainly do not want to oversimplify these complex and multi-faceted issues, we could say that all of those items can boil down to one core cause: insufficient esteem for the self; a lack of healthy and appropriate ego development. Except in the case of actual physical abuse, there is no reason other than a lack of esteem for yourself—knowledge of your competence to communicate it and your belief that you deserve to be happy—to explain it. AND, in the case of actual physical abuse, if the individual is staying in that system—and therefore participating in it—we can trace it to the same core: a lack of esteem for the self; that they deserve better and take action to make it so.
Without boring you by vivisecting all of those problem dynamic bullet points let’s cut to the quick of it: we could trace all of the problems in relationships down to 4 basic common denominators, 3 of them completely resolvable, and the 4th, quite often possible to resolve:
- Anemic esteem for the Self
- Underdeveloped facility – both emotionally as well as communication skills
- Lack of knowledge of effective communication models or processes
- A collision of worldviews at the level of values
We will address solutions to items 1, 2, and 3 in Part 2. For a partial examination of the 4th item, I will point you to another article on that subject HERE on my legacy site.
You can proceed to Part 2 of this article: The Solutions HERE.