Part 1: Three Tips For Mind Blowing Conversation
I once read a story about a bridge under construction where neither of the sides communicated with the other concerning their engineering and meeting point. When they got to the center where both sides should have connected so the bridge could be functional they were off by several yards making the bridge and the project a complete failure.
This story serves as a metaphor for the types of breakdown couples have in relating to each other. A bridge should be a crossing over and connection of two sides but often like the bridge in the story couples end up completely missing each other. When couples come to my counseling office I can ninety percent of the time predict what they are going to say, “We can not communicate.” For whatever reason, they are missing each other on the issues. Often it's not that they are not talking they are simply doing a poor job of implementing good skills of communication.
I am going to share three communication skills that I teach other therapists on how to authentically connect with people. For couples, it produces mind-blowing conversations if practiced regularly.
These 3 tips will help couples go deeper and authentically connect. Today we will discuss tip #1
1. The quality of your presence matters
I realize using the term “be present” could sound cliche’ but let me explain what I mean. A renowned psychiatrist and child development expert Dr. Bruce Perry once said that the social abilities of today’s 16-year-olds are at the level of development of past generations 9-year-olds due to the obsession with computer screens, phone screens, Ipad screens, and hours of video gameplay. My intention is not to knock technology. Like Kip Dynamite (Napoleon’s brother) I sing its praises too. But all you have to do is the next time you go out to eat take a look around at the people who are sitting together with their faces buried in a screen completely ignoring the other’s presence.
What this suggests is we are behind on our skill of authentic connection. Let that sink in. What Dr. Perry is saying is that more than ever before we have a paradox occurring. We are more connected than ever on a shallow level through social media with people around the world but are not truly connecting on deeper intimate levels and have less skill to do so.
Being present, therefore, looks like something. It is the act of giving someone your full attention which includes body language (eye contact, facing the person) and gestures of understanding such as nodding.
Bottom line: the quality of our presence in communication matters.
The next 2 blogs will address learning how to increase our skill of being present with people.