December, the season of relationships. Many innately recognize the Christmas season, above all others, as a time to receive love. Then, pass it along. Yet, in this season of connection, broken relationships are felt more deeply than ever.
At The Resolution Center, we’ve learned that three key habits transform relationships from hurting to healthy. If a damaged relationship is hurting you, we offer these tools to heal the brokenness. . .and to experience the joy of connection.
Genuinely listen when others speak
“One of the most sincere forms of respect is to actually listen to what another has to say.” Bryan McGill.
When relationships are strained, communication often fails.
The key reason: People can’t take in anything another says–no matter how helpful–until they speak. We tend to focus on our pain. . .our perspectives. . .our goals. This focus blocks out what others are saying. We can’t hear until we feel heard.
So. . .the first step in healing relationships–to listen.
Listening requires us to genuinely pay attention to what the other person is saying. We stop using the time they are talking to prepare our response. Instead, we pause our thoughts. We try to understand their perspective and desires. We reflect back what we heard to make sure we truly understand.
In strained relationships, people often mistake tolerating for listening. We cross our arms and refuse to interrupt–thinking this counts as listening. Moving from tolerating to truly listening proves key to building healthier relationships.
When we listen until the other person feels fully heard and understood, walls melt. They likewise begin to listen. Relationships flourish.
Affirm the other’s right to their perspective
Hurting people feel unimportant. Affirming the importance of the other person’s perspectives, desires, and goals proves key to building connection.
Affirmation isn’t necessarily agreement. Instead, affirmation recognizes that the other person has a right to think differently. We recognize the differences. And then work within them to find common ground.
Affirmation begins with basic manners: We look the other person in the eye. Smile. Adopt the tone of voice we would use with a boss or key client: calm, respectful, engaging. Treating others respectfully creates security. Security opens the door to connection.
Affirming also includes listening for the actual message rather than just the words. When another person repeatedly lists their version of our past failures, we can be tempted to debate what actually happened.
Huge progress takes place when we understand that they are really asking, “How can I trust you now when I’ve been so betrayed in the past?” Instead of debating the past, we focus on their real concern. Creating trust for the future.
Consciously listening for and responding to the real message begins true communication. When we learn this skill, we see huge improvement in our interactions.
Honor the unique importance of the other person
Underlying all these, we should treat others with honor. Beyond simply using manners, honor fundamentally changes how we see and interact with others.
Honor flows from believing in the unique, inherent worth of every person. We create an environment of honor when we base everything we do and say on, “You matter. Your pain matters. Your goals matter.” This focus almost magically builds bridges of connection.
The greatest gift . . .relationship
God’s gift of relationship through His Son was the first and best Christmas gift. The foundation of this season of joy. His example of listening to us, affirming us, and honoring us provides the recipe for making our other relationships work. In this season of connection, these keys move us from the brokenness to joy.
If you are would like help working through a broken relationship, we at The Resolution Center stand ready to serve you. You can call 317-344-9740 or email info@TheResolutionCenterIndy.com. We look forward to talking with you.