| LOCATION: On the train heading home to Salt Lake City, Utah USA |
“Life has a way of putting us into the places we don’t respect.”
This came a decade ago from one of my clients.
One of the most difficult things we face in relationships is the breakdown in communication when our feelings are hurt and we want to be heard. As we argue our point to the other person’s arguing theirs, the divide between us deepens, hurt feelings get worse and worse.
I have thought a lot about this. My art and my work are communication. I am passionate about it. But while I may communicate easily with nearly everyone I encounter, life has unerringly put me in a few places that I did not respect.
And I’ll be honest, at moments it’s made me utterly crazy.
A couple weeks ago I was talking to a friend having a communications struggle with a partner, and I wrote a note to myself. “Is it more important for you to be right, or to be understood?”
I thought I knew what that meant. But in an entirely different situation I found myself looking at that question in a new light.
Do we try to be understood as a way of being right?
Passionate communicator and connector that I am, I realized that yes, in fact, I have used my efforts to be understood as a way of asserting my blamelessness. Asserting blamelessness means that someone is to blame, and if it’s not me then it must be the other person. How awful this must feel to the other person. Creating a tacitly hostile situation, we digress in any number of ways, losing the confidence and connection of both people. It sucks.
It takes a giant leap to choose respect for ourselves in those moments of hurt, to take a deep breath, step back and say, “I love you. I respect you. And I want to understand you.”