Experiencing what is.
Distinguish between what you actually experience (see, hear, sense, feel,
notice, remember) versus what you imagine (interpret, believe, assume) to be
true. The statement “I see you looking at the floor’ is your own experience.
The statement ‘I see you are uncomfortable’ is an interpretation. If you get
caught up in believing your interpretations about another person’s behavior,
you’ll be responding to your interpretation of what she did instead of what
she actually did.
To be transparent is to be willing to be seen, warts and all. Contrary to what
we may think, most people become more appealing when they reveal their needs and
insecurities. This doesn’t mean presenting the story of your wounds and
misfortunes in vivid detail. It’s more a matter of practicing being open about
your feelings, impressions, wants, and self-talk about your interaction with the
person in front of you.
Noticing your intent.
Do you communicate to relate or to control? When your intent is to relate, you
are most interested in revealing your true feelings, learning how the other
feels, and connecting heart-to-heart. When your intent is to control, you are
most interested in getting things to turn out a certain way – avoiding
conflict, getting the person to like you, being seen as knowledgeable or
Giving and asking for feedback.
Giving feedback is the act of verbally letting the other know how his actions
affected you. Being open to receiving feedback means you are curious about and
willing to hear how your actions affect other people. Most people don’t get
very much valid feedback in their daily lives, and they long for it.
Asserting what you want and don’t want.
Many of us are afraid to ask for what we want in a relationship for fear or
either not getting it or of having the other person give it to them out of
obligation. Asking for what you want is an act of trust. You are taking a step
into the unknown – not knowing how the other person will respond.
Taking back projections.
If some aspect of my own personality is unconscious or suppressed, I may find
that I have a pattern of being attracted to men who exhibit this quality in
spades. Have you ever been attracted to someone for some wonderfully appealing
quality only to discover a few months down the road that this very same quality
turned you off? That’s a great opportunity to take back or rediscover your own
Revising an earlier statement.
This means giving yourself permission to revisit a particular interaction or
moment in time if your feelings change or if you later connect to some deeper
feelings or afterthoughts. For instance: “After I said such and such, I later
realized there was more to it than that. What I now feel is ________.”
Holding differences or embracing multiple perspectives.
Many people fear intimacy because we fear losing ourselves in a relationship. If
you know how to practice holding differences, you won’t need to fear losing
yourself. This is the capacity to listen to and empathize with opinions that
differ from yours without losing touch with your own perspective.
Sharing mixed emotions.
Sometimes we want to tell someone the truth but at the same time we are
concerned about their feelings. A desire to clear the air might be accompanied
by a fear of being misunderstood. If you do have mixed feelings, expressing both
feelings can add depth to your communication.
Authentic communication depends as much on silence as it does on words – the
silences between your words and the silence you have spoken as you await the
other’s response. Embracing silence encourages understanding that there are
many things that cannot be known all at once or once and for all. These things
emerge gradually as we get to know the other person.
in Dating: Finding Love by Getting Real by Susan M. Campbell, Ph.D.