Monday, June 28, 2010

Monday's Motivational Makeover Featuring Tess

Honest communication.

How honest is too honest?

Peeling the layers of the onion is my favorite pastime. A friend of mine says that I’m the “diagnostician of purpose and relevance”. It isn’t clear to me if he means that in a loving or a scrutinizing way but since we create most of our own meaning in our lives….I’ll take it in a loving way.

This week I’ve had a pinched nerve in my neck. Whenever there is a physical symptom I dig around in the emotional subterranean to see if there might be some other pinched nerve in my life where I’m not living authentically. After reviewing some of the domains of my life I came up with a couple of areas that may be suspect and in need of adjustment. Relationship is one such area.

Having made the decision to go “exclusive” in my romantic relationship recently, we are in the discovery phase of the mating dance where we get to define boundaries, communicate effectively and practice honesty (while still attempting to be attractive and desirable to each other). It has been years since I’ve shared this much time and conversation with an intimate other with the hopeful intention that it will evolve into a long term commitment.

Both communicators, we enjoy sharing thoughts through words, however, I’ve begun to notice that although a bonding experience, we have different modes of communicating. Additionally, when discussing needs and emotions, I find that I’m much more prone to directness and solving what I see as areas of frustration and inequity before they result in discontent.

My gentleman friend would rather let things go as he feels most things dissipate given time..

Since unresolved upset becomes toxic sludge in my school of thought, I would like to have a quick exchange where I put things on the table, shed some light, get a little validation or at least some air time….and then it doesn’t hold the “charge” energetically.

Once I do this, closeness is restored and I can get back to happy.

Gentleman friend is trying to adjust his rule book to these new requirements, but often I see a glassy eyed creature looking back at me and nodding slowly. My need for honesty doesn’t work the same for him…in fact it appears to get in the way of his “relatedness” with me. His level of honesty isn’t as rigorous as mine. Because of his importance to me, I’ve been able to adjust the frequency, my degree of intensity and my tone so that I can be heard. Thanking him for hearing me when we’re finished also seems to meet with his glassy eyed approval.

Honesty is high on my list of values. It is a good thing…and I don’t want to compromise….but…..

After force feeding honesty to my very patient friends and family… all of these years, after all of the classes and all of the books, and peeling the onion….i may have learned something invaluable.

Serving honesty up in a comforting and compassionate way is a very good thing.

Every relationship requires its own degree of honesty and being completely self expressed doesn’t serve the relationship unless the other person is equipped to receive the level of honesty with which you are communicating.

Since most of communication is non verbal here are a few ideas to consider:

Evaluating your nonverbal communication skills

Eye contact

Is this source of connection missing, too intense, or just right in yourself or in the person you are looking at?

Facial expression

What is your face showing? Is it masklike and unexpressive, or emotionally present and filled with interest? What do you see as you look into the faces of others?

Tone of voice

Does your voice project warmth, confidence, and delight, or is it strained and blocked? What do you hear as you listen to other people?

Posture and gesture

Does your body look still and immobile, or relaxed? Sensing the degree of tension in your shoulders and jaw answers this question. What do you observe about the degree of tension or relaxation in the body of the person you are speaking to?


Remember, what feels good is relative. How do you like to be touched? Who do you like to have touching you? Is the difference between what you like and what the other person likes obvious to you?


Do you or the person you are communicating with seem flat, cool, and disinterested, or over-the-top and melodramatic? Again, this has as much to do with what feels good to the other person as it does with what you personally prefer.

Timing and pace

What happens when you or someone you care about makes an important statement? Does a response—not necessarily verbal—come too quickly or too slowly? Is there an easy flow of information back and forth?


Do you use sounds to indicate that you are attending to the other person? Do you pick up on sounds from others that indicate their caring or concern for you?

Source: The Language of Emotional Intelligence, by Jeanne Segal, Ph.D.

What’s in your life is what you choose, choose consciously and powerfully!


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