Relationships can be seen throughout nature. They are visible in the pair bonding of penguins for life, in the altruism of a leopard who adopted a baby baboon, and of course within our own human families. They are an integral part of our feeling more joyful, accepted, loved, and a part of something greater.
So it is important that we learn to treat these relationships with kindness and with respect. And learning to communicate is an important practice for spiritualizing and harmonizing our relationships.
The following are 10 tips on how to communicate so that we can improve our relationships and live more in their joy:
1. Break the process of immediate behavioral response. Try not to have serious discussions under the influence of great emotion and avoid voicing negative thoughts. Studies show that when we experience too much emotion it becomes impossible for the brain to step in and express clearly what we mean. So wait until you are calm before reacting. Take a moment to cool down, count to 10, or take a deep breath, and then speak from your center.
2. Thing in terms of longer rhythms so that it easier not to get caught up in the little things. Learn to let go of smaller fights and save your energy for the things that matter.
3. Be flexible in your attitudes about situations or interactions with others. To do this, it helps to keep foremost in your mind your unconditional love for the other person.
4. Be grateful for your relationship and respect it as a gift in your life to teach you and help you to grow. If you and your loved ones were already perfect, you wouldn’t have the need to learn from each other in this life.
5. If things start to get negative and tense, say a joke! Then you can laugh and relieve the tense energy. This breaks up the negative energy and dissipates it so that it can’t affect you anymore.
6. Show appreciation and courtesy to those whom you love. Let this act of giving be inspired and sincere, without expectations for receiving anything in return.
7. Don’t make assumptions about how others think. We don’t really know each other’s thoughts or how someone really feels until they express themselves. Psychology studies show that we often create things in our own heads that are completely different than what others around us are experiencing. We all have different ways of perceiving things.
8. Listen deeply. Be mindful to what the other person is saying and be a listener in the way that you would want others to listen to you
9. Relationships are not a contest. In any difference of opinion, don’t insist on getting the last word or having to be “right.” Maybe they are right. Maybe you are right. In the end we only hear what we want to hear and remember what we want to remember. It’s not about winning the argument or saying the last word. Instead, be right by being peaceful, by being loving, and by listening. Be the example of the behavior you wish to receive from your partner.
10. Hold realistic expectations of each other. Be slow to judge, and quick to forgive. Offer your mistakes to a higher power and then let go of feeling badly. Learn to laugh at yourself and your situations with others.
These things will not only help you to communicate better with your partner, friends, and co-workers, but help you to have a more positive, happier experience with yourself and with the divine lila (play) of life.
This article is based on communication tips from the book Self-Expansion Through Marriage, by Swami Kriyananda.