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Living beings form relationships through the power of communication – the sharing of information. Information is the communication of uncertainty. If nothing unknown is communicated, no information is transmitted. The communication of uncertainty enriches every relationship across the spectrum of life.
When we behave in predictable and conditioned ways, there is no sharing of uncertainty and no deepening of the connection. Relationships falter when we think we know how people will respond before they say or do anything. Effective communication requires that we break out of our conditioned responses, while tuning in to the needs of the moment. Relationships that consistently refer to the past or impose certainty onto the future inevitably become stagnant or disintegrate.
Get clarity about what you need, become clear of the needs of those around you, and commit to enhancing your communication skills. The essence of communication in relationships is the crossing of boundaries.
This requires that you acknowledge the boundaries of your and the other’s self-image, and then consciously open a channel that allows information to flow. Only if you can relinquish your need to defend your self-image while seeking to communicate something original is there the possibility of deepening intimacy.
Most arguments are created when we sense we have to sacrifice some aspect of our ego and decide that the price may not be worth the intimacy. If you find that you are having a recurrent argument, it’s usually a sign that you need to be more conscious of where you want to set your margins.
Getting your needs met and helping others meet theirs begins with paying attention to the principles of Code breaking and Accordance.
Code breaking means being willing to suspend your assumptions and listen attentively to what another person is trying to communicate. Particularly when approaching emotionally issues, we are prone to talk in our own code. Practice being willing to say, “I’m not sure I understand what you need right now, or I am not sure that you are hearing what I need right now. Can you tell me (can I clarify for you?) in a different way?” Breaking out of the conditioned code words, means exploring a new vocabulary so that real information is communicated.
Accordance means seeking solutions in which both people get some needs met. Relinquish your pattern of belief that if one person wins another loses. Practice saying, “I’ll do my best to give you what you’re asking for. Are you willing to help me get my needs met?” If you lead with a commitment to serve, you are more likely to hear “yes” in response to your requests, deepening your connection and developing the confidence. Through the power of communication, your heart can open and your sense of self can expand.
The Late David Simon, M.D., was the co-founder & medical director of the Chopra Center for Wellbeing at the La Costa Resort & Spa in Carlsbad.