Friday, October 23rd, 2020

We all have times when we can’t work out exactly how someone we know is feeling. It’s okay as an occasional thing, but if it keeps happening there is a simple solution you might want to try. It’s nothing to do with the other person offering you a spontaneous explanation – if you really want to know, you will need to slow down and consider what is going on and why: feelings are defined as an emotional state or a reaction,  It’s not about the you and me, it’s all about the us: you behaviour is influencing the situation to some extent.

Healthy relationships of all sorts rely on a rich mix of communication skills. Chief amongst these, I would suggest, is listening. When you stop talking you allow yourself the opportunity to evaluate, as well as hear, what is being said. Be sure to observe body language too. By stopping, listening and observing, you allow the other person to reveal themselves and you convey respect and regard for them.

Of course, this relies on you not responding too hastily or pushing your own opinions forward, which is not easy, especially when feelings are involved. For instance, imagine yourself on a third Zoom date, trying to work out if the other person is really interested in you. Their responses are evasive and are not providing the reassurance you are seeking. Whilst really frustrating it could be that you are not creating enough space for the other person to express themselves and they are feeling hemmed in – of course their responses will be evasive! You probably don’t realise you are doing it, but as soon as you feel uneasy, you should consider it as a possibility and act. You may be making statements along the lines of “I can’t stand it when anyone tells me what to do” or “I hate anyone who votes Tory” – whatever you choose to say in such pronouncements is not the point – to the person you are talking to, the message is very clear: I have expectations and you may not be good enough. That’s not what you want them to feel!

Shocked? Yep. This is tricky stuff. Especially at the beginning of relationships we are all wary of making mistakes or disappointing the person we are trying to impress and we can sometimes be a little too strident, because we fear losing our sense of who we are (this will be most intense when we’ve experienced it before).

Relax – the simple truth is that you can’t force anyone to like you or to change that much. Nor should you change for them. Be yourself, but critically allow the person you are with to be themselves. The message if you do, is much more welcome – I like you and I want to know more.

So, if someone says or does something in this context that you don’t like, sit back and ask yourself what’s happening. We all have a raging torrent of emotions inside that we are managing and none of us reveal ourselves that easily, unless we meet someone who welcomes us in as we are.

Karen X