The Dance of Non-Verbal Communication

I have been taking a couple’s dance class recently, which has been making me think about the importance of non-verbal communication.  It is absolutely imperative in social dancing.  The man has to clearly communicate what he wants the woman to do, and she needs to be able to interpret things correctly in order to follow his non-verbal directions.  That is such a perfect metaphor for any kind of relationship because both communicating and interpreting are very important.

Some people give off very few non-verbal cues as to what they are thinking or feeling. That makes them hard to read and can lead to confusion, playing guessing games, or even tip-toeing around issues because the other person may not know how that person will react.  That’s been my experience, anyway.  On the other hand, I have experience with people who give off almost too much non-verbal communication.   Continue reading

Perception Being Reality

perspective 2It’s amazing how much stress and conflict in my life actually stems from someone’s perception being different from reality.  Most of the time, it is someone’s intentions that are perceived incorrectly, and usually it is assumed the intentions are far worse than what they really were.  For example, a suggestion I make will get interpreted as me trying to control things or have things my way, when in reality I am just trying to be helpful.  I catch myself making assumptions about intentions too sometimes, but it is usually because the other person has established a pattern of behavior demonstrating they can’t be trusted, make promises they have no intention of keeping, or other not so great behaviors.

It’s very easy to assume the worst and not give the other person the benefit of the doubt. Therefore, it is important to act in such a way that demonstrates that one can be trusted and has integrity and good intentions.  Trust and respect are both qualities that are easy to lose and difficult to regain, and we need to keep that in mind both with our own behavior and being willing to allow others to redeem themselves.  Not being so quick to judge their intentions is important too.

Sometimes two people can perceive the same situation differently and both be correct … or perhaps neither be correct.   Continue reading

Pushing People Away

It amazes me how many people I know who would rather push people away than work on making any changes that they can to improve a relationship, regardless of the type of relationship.  I guess it’s easier than doing some self-reflection and realizing that you are part of the problem and need to make some changes, apologize, and/or make up for something.  I do understand how hard it is to make changes for the better, even if you do realize that you need to do so.  But why is it so easy to do the opposite and behave even worse, which only pushes the other person away?

I’ve experienced this in different forms over the years, and I feel like I’ve been pushed so many times, that it doesn’t take much for me to push back at this point.  I wish that weren’t the case, but it is.  It’s hard to step back from that, and it makes it even more difficult to take steps in the right direction.  And it’s challenging to refrain from reacting the same way or even worse each time to the same repeated behavior.  Trying to keep motivated to make improvements when you feel like you are the only one who is interested in making the effort becomes difficult too.

It’s definitely easier to blame others for everything instead of admitting that you have made mistakes, have failed at something, or have flaws.   Continue reading

Boundaries

Everyone has his or her own idea of what boundaries are acceptable.  It’s when there is a big difference in what is acceptable to different people that problems arise.  I am talking about boundaries related to personal space, privacy, topics that are appropriate to discuss, and things of that nature.

For example, I’m certainly not one to snoop through other family members’ belongings or things like their computer history, with the one exception of when it is necessary to keep tabs on my kids.  Even then, I don’t exercise that right all that often.  I like to respect people’s privacy and personal space because I would like that in return, not that I have anything to hide.  Unfortunately, I have not gotten that in return.  I know there are plenty of people who think it’s their right to go through their significant other’s phone, computer, and other belongings whenever they feel like it, even if there is no reason to be suspicious of any wrongdoing.  It’s just their right.  I don’t agree with that.

Even though my soon-to-be ex-husband hasn’t lived in the house for a while now, he still thinks it’s perfectly fine to just walk right in as if he still lives here.  He thinks that just because we can get along and work together with regards to the kids, that means he’s welcome to do that.  Getting along and invading personal space are two different things.

Boundaries really boil down to respect and trust, so if someone doesn’t respect your boundaries even if they disagree with them, then they really don’t respect you.  I think that’s one thing that differentiates “takers” is that they tend to not respect boundaries and feel like they have a right to do whatever they want whenever they want.  It’s up to the “givers” to set and enforce the boundaries.

This can be difficult though when you are dealing with someone who not only doesn’t respect boundaries but also reacts very negatively when it is brought to his or her attention.  In my opinion, how adults react to boundaries or view them in the first place has a lot to do with whether or not boundaries were set for them as they were children and how well their parents did at maintaining that.  Obviously, kids are going to push boundaries and test limits.  It’s a part of becoming an individual separate from your parents.  I’m all for pushing boundaries when they are along the lines of accomplishing something that has never been done before and things like that, but when kids push boundaries that have to do with curfews, acceptable behavior, responsibilities, personal space, and so on, I think it’s a parent’s responsibility to remind them that there are boundaries and consequences for not adhering to them.  And we need to teach them that there can’t be any double standards when it comes to boundaries.  If they don’t want a sibling going into their room to borrow a book, then they can’t go borrow one from their room whenever they feel like it.

The bottom line is that it’s perfectly healthy and necessary to set boundaries and expect others to adhere to them.  We just need to understand that it might be necessary to make it clear what the boundaries are because not everyone’s are the same.  If we don’t make it clear, then we may not have a right to be upset if we are assuming the other person understands our boundaries when perhaps that is not the case.  We also need to be respectful of others’ boundaries, even if they are different than ours because if we violate them, it will most likely be interpreted as lack of respect.  If there is a question as to what the boundaries are, it is better to err on the side of caution and not make assumptions.  The more conscious we can be about boundaries, whether it’s from a parenting perspective or the perspective of interacting with others, the better off we’ll all be.

Comments are always welcome!  Clicking on the “Home” page tab will allow you to scroll through other posts, or you can select a category or tag word to find similar topics.  If you would like to read future posts, please follow the blog or my Facebook page.

Maintaining Middle Ground

With some people, there doesn’t ever seem to be a middle ground.  Everything is black or white, all or nothing.  Either you’re on their side or completely against them.  I definitely know more than one person who fits this description, and it makes communication quite difficult sometimes.

One of the things that is difficult is trying to get a point across without them over-interpreting things as I sometimes call it, is the fact that they tend to interpret things as being one extreme or the other.  And unfortunately, the worst possible interpretation seems to be the one of choice most of the time.   Continue reading

Being Tactful

tact

Being tactful is getting to be a lost art, if you ask me.  It seems to me that people are much more apt to just say (or type) whatever comes to their mind without filtering anything or thinking about the potential consequences.  Not every thought is one that should be shared immediately or exactly the way it popped into our heads.

We’re now a society though where news is reported in little sound bites, articles are full of short one sentence paragraphs, we share lots of little details about our lives through social media, bashing someone through social media is pretty common, and most people feel like they need to express their every thought on every topic, even though they may not know that much about it.  It’s the norm for us to vocalize most of our thoughts right away, good or bad.

That can often lead to a lot of misunderstanding, hurt feelings, divisiveness, negative energy, misinformation, frustration, and so on.  It’s one thing to think you know what to say, but another to know when and how to say it.  Not everyone is open to constructive criticism or hearing other people’s opinions, so things have to be phrased very carefully.  Other people get very defensive if you challenge their opinions or ideas and even take it as a personal attack.  Some people are very easily offended these days, so there’s that too.  Or perhaps they over-interpret things and take things to the extreme.  There are plenty of other situations where being tactful would be beneficial.

It would be nice if there were not so much of a need to be tactful because people were more patient, were better listeners, were more open-minded, and had many other characteristics I have discussed in previous posts.  But that’s not the case, so it is to our benefit to try to be tactful whenever possible.  That requires thinking ahead though, which not everyone is willing to do.  And it requires trying to get your point across without making the other person feel like tuning out or coming back with an adversarial response.  Sometimes it doesn’t matter how tactful you are because of the person on the receiving end, but sometimes it can make a big difference.

Comments are always welcome!  Clicking on the “Home” page tab will allow you to scroll through other posts, or you can select a category or tag word to find similar topics.  If you would like to read future posts, please follow the blog or my Facebook page.

Holding Grudges

grudges

The topic of grudges has been on my mind lately because I recently had a friend admit that she was upset about something that I DIDN’T say (or didn’t say enough) to her last year.  This came out in relation to something she was upset about recently, and it became apparent that she has been holding a grudge about last year and exhibiting passive aggressive behavior towards me in the meantime.  And then when she finally did express her frustration, she didn’t hesitate to include some insults and other very hurtful things.  I would have preferred that she said something a year ago instead, rather than let it affect how she has treated me since then.

Ironically, she is generally pretty quick to tell other people if there is something they have done or said that bothers her.  That’s the other extreme, where we don’t hesitate to point out every little thing.  But that can be difficult NOT to do with the people who continue to repeat the same patterns of behavior that irritate us or hurt our feelings. It’s hard to resist the urge when it happens so frequently.  I can relate to both of the situations, as I too have people in my life who are repeat offenders with plenty of negative behaviors, but I have also hesitated to tell her things that she has done in the past that I didn’t like.  I was willing to overlook the negatives with her because the positives outweighed them.

I understand that it’s difficult to tell people we care about that they have hurt our feelings or disappointed us somehow, especially if we don’t think they are going to react very well.  Or perhaps it’s a matter of not wanting to upset the fruit basket, so to speak.  Unfortunately, when we don’t speak up, things fester, and little things become bigger than they should.  And when we finally have the courage to say something, it often doesn’t come out in the most constructive way. Once my buttons were pushed, it wasn’t difficult to let her know about the negatives I was no longer willing to overlook, just as she was not hesitant to say hurtful things to me.

Neither complaining frequently nor choosing to not say something at all are necessarily the best way to go about dealing with frustration or hurt feelings. Listening to someone complain all the time gets very old and can be mentally draining at times. Yet, holding onto negative feelings for a long time can be just as toxic.  Both can tip the scale so that it seems like there are more negatives than positives in whatever type of relationship.  Somewhere in the middle is probably the best approach where we pick our battles, so to speak, and find a way to constructively point out the things that bother us the most and try to let go of the less significant things. Otherwise, we run the risk of having to decide if we are willing to let go of the friendship or relationship that has become toxic instead.

Comments are always welcome!  Clicking on the “Home” page tab will allow you to scroll through other posts, or you can select a category or tag word to find similar topics.  If you would like to read future posts, please follow the blog or my Facebook page.