Communication: Disconnect the Lips and Engage the Ears!

I wrote this last year and it still holds true for me so I have taken a few bits out and put it out there again. Putting this in context I write weekly articles reflecting on a TV show I was involved with as a relationship ‘expert’ in New Zealand.

What is the secret to a successful relationship? It feels like a complete cop out and pretty unoriginal when communication tops the list. Increasingly people on the receiving end are just as disappointed, mainly because they are hoping for a quick and long lasting fix. If I was to say, ‘skip twice on your right foot, once on your left, tap your head and rub your gut anticlockwise, whilst singing wanna be my lover, you gotta get with my friends (spice girls…I think)’. People would race away in delight, and hopefully a tad confused, because it required minimal effort and investment, and professed immediate results. Better still if I was to tell them they were perfect in every way. The challenges they speak of are solely the problem held by their partner, and this wee exercise is one for their partner to complete and the other to watch. The go to line for breaking up, ‘its not you it’s me’ has long gone, it’s now, ‘ I’m flawless and you’re not’ via Instagram of course.

When I talk about communication I’m not referring to what we say, more how good we are at shutting up and actually listening. We have all become really good at monologues, which means to deliver our message our way. Emotional vocabulary has also increased, but perhaps we get to hear it a lot and even in everyday life, but we don’t get to see it in action. I got to hear a lot how committed, genuine, honest, modest folk were, but I didn’t get to see it as much as I would have liked. Some struggle, however with entering into a dialogue. This is where we listen just as much as we speak and are open to change but also to be changed. The hard thing now is telling the difference between the two, as people have become pretty good at making all the right noises. We hear from most of the individuals stuff along the lines of, ‘when you…, I feel…’ It then becomes a rally of the same exchange, with both feeling they have delivered themselves clearly but the other person is plain ignoring them. Then it becomes a case of winning and losing, which is never going to bode well. We see then someone going for the smash, but not for the point, but to take their opponent out and humiliate them in the process.

You combine a shift from the mouth to the ears with being prepared to open your eyes, then folk may well be pleasantly surprised with what they get to see and hear. On the same note you may even make a more informed decision on who is right or wrong.

I wrote this last year and it still holds true for me so I have taken a few bits out and put it out there again. Putting this in context I write weekly articles reflecting on a TV show I was involved with as a relationship ‘expert’ in New Zealand.

What is the secret to a successful relationship? It feels like a complete cop out and pretty unoriginal when communication tops the list. Increasingly people on the receiving end are just as disappointed, mainly because they are hoping for a quick and long lasting fix. If I was to say, ‘skip twice on your right foot, once on your left, tap your head and rub your gut anticlockwise, whilst singing wanna be my lover, you gotta get with my friends (spice girls…I think)’. People would race away in delight, and hopefully a tad confused, because it required minimal effort and investment, and professed immediate results. Better still if I was to tell them they were perfect in every way. The challenges they speak of are solely the problem held by their partner, and this wee exercise is one for their partner to complete and the other to watch. The go to line for breaking up, ‘its not you it’s me’ has long gone, it’s now, ‘ I’m flawless and you’re not’ via Instagram of course.

When I talk about communication I’m not referring to what we say, more how good we are at shutting up and actually listening. We have all become really good at monologues, which means to deliver our message our way. Emotional vocabulary has also increased, but perhaps we get to hear it a lot and even in everyday life, but we don’t get to see it in action. I got to hear a lot how committed, genuine, honest, modest folk were, but I didn’t get to see it as much as I would have liked. Some struggle, however with entering into a dialogue. This is where we listen just as much as we speak and are open to change but also to be changed. The hard thing now is telling the difference between the two, as people have become pretty good at making all the right noises. We hear from most of the individuals stuff along the lines of, ‘when you…, I feel…’ It then becomes a rally of the same exchange, with both feeling they have delivered themselves clearly but the other person is plain ignoring them. Then it becomes a case of winning and losing, which is never going to bode well. We see then someone going for the smash, but not for the point, but to take their opponent out and humiliate them in the process.

You combine a shift from the mouth to the ears with being prepared to open your eyes, then folk may well be pleasantly surprised with what they get to see and hear. On the same note you may even make a more informed decision on who is right or wrong.

I Know Whats Best for You!?

There is this American Fella who pops up on my Facebook feed each now and again. I’ve never met him but I have taken a wee look at what he has to say. The latest was asking me how I’d spend $84,500 each day. Well, first off, I’d be going for upsizing to a large coffee with an outrageously extravagant shot of hazelnut, because now I’m cashed up. This quickly moved to paying off daily chunks of my mortgage and a local charity and so on… Turns out it was making reference to the amount of potential time I have each day to reach the dizzying heights of personal and professional success. This use of time points to the success behind Steve Jobs, Michelle Obama and a couple of big hitters who get up at 4am and 5am to embrace the day. Why is this the secret to success?.. Well the video was impressively professional and he has tens and thousands of followers, and they all were in awe at his insight.

Well, this morning was much like any other in my household starting with a hiss and a roar at 4.30am. My 11 months old was in hysterics as he beat on my peaceful brow like a drum that could not be broken. The laughter (his, not mine), then like a firelighter was enough to raise our 6 year old from his slumber. The hearing and sense required to sense such activity from his room at the other side of the house is the gift that is blessed between all siblings (based on no science other than my experience). With an absolute fear of missing out on the magical family moments and picture perfect scene that was unfolding in my bedroom, my eldest raced into the room and proved that with enough force and momentum you could take all the wind out of their barely awake father. My wife was already in the kitchen putting the kettle on resigned to greeting this new day slightly ahead of schedule. So, given this early start, and having read the article, I have checked my bank balance and I’m nowhere near the big leagues, or even over 40’s social league level to be fair. I’m certainly putting in the serious awake minutes suggested.

This got me thinking, as this gentleman’s posts directed me to an unimaginable number of other bloggers and ‘influencers’ that were keen to share how I too could reach my true potential. We are being bombarded by folk telling us what to think, feel and all are offering the gifts of success and happiness. Who are these people and why on earth should we listen. I am a tad sensitive to this very question as I have found myself in a position where I am employed to take on such a role. Even thought it is in an area that I am highly qualified and experienced in, it still doesn’t sit particularly easy with me. I’ve now done two series of a show with the awesome Warner Brothers in sunny New Zealand as a host/ relationship expert. This was certainly a different path for me but it continues to be a heck of an adventure and experience. It is what has been generated from this experience that has been at times random. One such request that I found most disturbing was during the most recent NZ national elections. What we had was a coalition government going against the majority party who couldn’t quite make the cut on their lonesome. The two primary leaders joining forces, were from the outside, an unlikely match. Anyway, I was asked to go on a national breakfast show and the evening talk show, along with writing in the national paper about the potential of these two individuals, and therefore political parties, to work together based on relationships and body language. Well, I kindly declined such an opportunity based on the fact I didn’t have a clue, I’d never met them and I didn’t particularly have a robust political understanding of what was going on. Beside this, I therefore had no right nor place to publicly speak on such an issue. Especially as if its said in print or on screen, then it must be fact.. far from it!

In this era of social media and information overload its best to take the words of others with a pinch of salt and to prompt further questions rather them being taken as tried and tested. I tend to only follow and enjoy following those that are reflecting on their lived experience of something, that does tend to be tried, tested and informative. Kmelerine and his blog (Squeeze the Space Mans Taco) for example, offers an honest and open insight into his experience of raising his son with autism.

The slightly disjointed point of this post. Well, I’ll put a bit of it down to being away from social media and posting for a wee while. The main point is as with most of my posts a dose of self reflection. When reading posts, especially by folk with amazing energy and personalities, that have a lot to say about how you can be better.. if you just like, then listen to their podcasts. Keep being curious and never stop asking questions. Take a look at who the person or group of people may be that is delivering these inputs. I wouldn’t take advice from a plumber on how to fix my car, neither would I take parenting advice, mental health guidance or tips towards success from a 23 year old philosophy student, without kids. I don’t care how fancy the podcasts are.

My goal when I write for papers or magazines and especially this blog space (which is my little secret indulgence to reflect) is to make sure that whoever takes the time to read any of my pieces leaves with something positive to take away and consider. As a counsellor the right answer is in posing the right question, that way the reader or listener can add their own flavour as only they can know how.