Tuesday, February 7, 2017

How to create emphatic and loving relationships. You ask, I answer.

This is the first in a series of articles that I wrote, based on questions I receive. Please send me more questions ( wishyouhealthyrelationship@gmail.com) and, if you find this article useful, please like our page on Facebook ( https://www.facebook.com/communicationandmore ).

It is often said that in order to have a happy intimate relationship, we need to compromise. The other person gives up some, I give up some and that way we reach a point where you have two people who are giving up. With this article I’ll show you that there is a much better way.

love and compassion for healthy romantic relationshipsMeet Janet and Mark (I changed the names to guarantee privacy). I work with Janet, as she is the one to realize that their relationship is fast steering towards the rocks. Janet and Mark have a business together.
Janet finds some of the things that Mark does, in his everyday dealings, very difficult to accept, and she is building up more and more resentment towards him as he seems, in her words: “not to care”.
Janet and I decide to work on one specific thing that Mark does and that she finds really, really hard to deal with.
According to Janet, Mark leaves his tools, such as screwdrivers, hammer, wrenches, etc...right in front of the entrance of their business, causing visual clutter and, sometimes, as screwdrivers have a tendency to roll, they create a situation where guests need to jump over them.
Janet tells me she has addressed this issue with Mark several times, with no change.

Over the weeks that we work together, we are able to clarify a few things:
First, that when Janet sees the tools by the entrance to the business, she gets disturbed because some of her basic human needs are not met, specifically:
beauty (she perceives them as ugly at the entrance)
harmony (similar to the above)
cooperation (Mark leaving tools there even after she addressed it with him)
consideration (this and all following needs, similar to the above)
to be heard
safety (clients could trip over them)

Secondly, that because of lots of similar events in their relationship, in which messages seem to get lost in the ether, her level of resentment has reached historical levels and that, if we want to put it on a time-scale, she is at 1 minute to twelve, in terms of quitting the relationship. On the other hand, she deeply cares about him and the relationship and is really, really desperate to find a way to communicate with him, as she realizes that she is not managing.

Thirdly, related closely to point number two, we are able to identify that her way of communicating is mostly based on threats. Even when she doesn’t use the actual words, she is still falling into the retaliatory formula: “if you don’t do this, I will do that”. Clearly, when we address anyone in this way, we get a protective reaction from them as they feel threatened, and their fight-flight-freeze mechanisms kick in.

With these three points, we were able to get quite some work done over a period of four weeks. We started by addressing point three: use of communication.
Janet was able to see that if she wanted to make headway, she needed to approach Mark with different communication skills. In particular, she needed to be able to develop different listening skills so that she would be able to relate to his basic human needs. Why is this important? Because when we meet at the level of basic human needs we are meeting on a level playing field, where the potential for human connection is extremely high. This level playing field is often referred to as empathy.
So, over the weeks we spent together, Janet was able to approach Mark with “big ears”, with the ability to actually, fully hear what he was saying about the tools being where he left them.
She was able to establish that this strategy that he chose was really used to fulfill his basic human needs for:
ease (having them close to him when he needs them)
self-expression (this and the ones below, related to the basic human needs for autonomy)

So can you notice how a very interesting thing is happening here? We have an almost mathematical equation being born here: we have narrowed things down to a few common denominators, a few basic human needs; basic human need that we all share and that we can relate to:
Janet has mostly needs for beauty and inclusion as most prominent ones, while Mark has needs for peace and autonomy as strong ones, in this moment of his life.

When we finally came to this point, it was easy to create some common working strategies between Jane and Mark. During one of the Skype get-togethers that Jane and I had, we started an exercise in creative thinking; in other words, we started creating a list of practical ways (strategies) that she could suggest to Mark, to fulfill the needs of both.
We started off the list with about 10 strategies and narrowed it down to about 2 or 3.
Now we were facing the moment of truth. Would Mark take to any of the strategies that Jane was about to suggest?
I was really keeping my fingers crossed and feeling intrepid, till our next meeting.
A week passed and we got back on tele-conferencing. I was waiting with excitement for news. Jane told me that, over the weeks that we had worked together, she had started to act quite differently with Mark. In a way,she was better able to see his “humanity” and to accept the points that she, until recently, had chosen to see as “flaws”.
By the same token, she was able to try and guess what his basic human needs were, after we built up a bit of “needs fluency” for her. In so doing, she was able to connect to him in a completely different way, coming from a point of love and care most of the time, without labeling Mark as “slob” or “lazy”. Furthermore, by doing this work, by exercising her mind in this way, she was able to come up with a strategy that worked for both:
From tools to divorce?The tools would, from now on, Mark agreed to this, be left at a certain distance from the door, in such a way that they would not be too prominent yet, in such a way that he could grab them without further ado.

I hope that this article has shown you how easy it is to connect, when there is will by at least one person to create deep and meaningful engagement, without the need to compromise by anyone.

If you would like to receive, for free, on a weekly basis our communication tips that could help you create crystal clear, misunderstanding free connections in situations like the one you just read about, then subscribe now ( https://people-and-communication.com/blog-archive/ ). If you prefer one-on-one sessions, I (Jerry) have always two free sessions available for you, that you can sign up for by emailing me ( wishyouhealthyrelationship@gmail.com ). We all look forward to speaking with you! The team of Online Academy for Communication.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Stand firm and don’t compromise (in romantic relationships)

It is often said that in order to create a viable relationship, we need to compromise. We are told that we need “to give some” and our counterpart needs to do as much. In fact, many principles of modern-day negotiation are based on this: “you give up some, I give up some” and the net result is that we have to unhappy parties who were unable to fulfill all their basic human needs.

The problem with this inefficient model is that it leaves two people (or more, if you are living an open relationship) feeling they "have left too much money on the table". And if this happens only once, well, I guess it is a case of forgive and forget. Yet, in most instances, we turn this “compromise and lose yourself in the relationship” model into an art, an art that in the long run leaves us – and the relationship - sad and empty, simply because we are not living to the full potential of ourselves and we are not living to the full potential of our relationship. How often, to my dismay, when sitting in restaurants, do I see those couples who have, clearly, been together for a long, long time, look past each other, in the distance, with nothing left to tell each other. How sad do I find that !

By now, I can almost hear you say: “this is all very well, yet what other options exist?”

To go into this world of options, I would like to introduce you to a few fundamental aspects that all too often get ignored about the “workings of humans” and to do so I’ll digress into the world of mobile/cell phones, yet, before that, let me start with a few points:
  • Human beings are constantly trying to fulfill basic human needs, with any action we take, with any word we utter, with any thought we have. By the way, for those of you who, like me, are interested in the scientific evidence behind all this, feel free to e-mail me, and I will send you all the scholarly articles you may wish to read.
  • Most of us are unclear on our own basic human needs, except for a few easily identifiable ones, such as, for example hydration. The action we take to fulfill that need for hydration, is drinking some fluid. This is a pretty obvious basic human need to any of us, so is the action/strategy we use. It gets trickier when we go out in the world and do other things. So let’s play together if you are willing to join me:
    • “What basic human needs are you trying to fulfill when you buy/get a contract with a mobile phone operator?”
      To help you find the answers to that question, here is a very simplified “wheel of basic human needs”. Try to see which broad category it fits in. Please share with all of us ! Leave a comment below in which category it fits for you. Is it participation?

    • Illustration: Simple wheel of Max Neef's
       needs by V Nicolas and A McIntosh
       Or perhaps affection (a strategy to keep in touch with those you love)? Or is it creativity (you use your cell/mobile mostly to connect with your co-workers to share ideas)? Or perhaps all of the above? Share below and let’s start a conversation, ask us anything you’d like! 

Back to intimate relationships. And I am going to ask you the same question we had about mobile phones: “What basic human needs are you trying to fulfill when you get into an intimate relationship?”
Again you can use this simplified wheel of needs to find some of the basic answers and equally, I hope that by now you can see how useful determining your basic human needs can be to create clarity within ourselves as to why we pursue a particular action in life.
Let’s narrow it down a bit more and focus on the subject that I introduced in the title: “no compromises”.
It is a huge subject and here I have room only an introduction, so, if all this speaks to you and you wish to go into more depth, my team and I at the Online Academy for Communication would be delighted to introduce you to it, for free, in our tester course, which you can access here. In it you will learn, among other things, the importance of empathy and self-empathy to identify these basic human needs, so that you can go on in life, and create strategies that really work for you, as an individual. If then you wish to take it further, we would love to welcome you to our one-year certified course, during which we will share with you a much, much more detailed list of basic human needs, among many other things.
Let me come back to the “no compromises”. Once you have identified your basic human needs, and once your partner has identified their basic human needs, you can start sharing on a completely different level. At the level that all human beings share, of basic human needs. Now, we can emphatically relate to and connect with each other. So the question is now: “Why is this so useful?”
Because if I recognize in you the same “stuff” that is happening in me too, I can reach out to you and understand you, without putting you in the category of “the people who are coming in from the wrong angle” or, for that matter, without putting myself into the category of “the people with whom something is wrong”.
So, if nobody is “right” and nobody is “wrong”, then we have some kind of plane, level playing field in which we can recognize each other in our full capacity and in our full humanity. Two people, naked at the level of the inner workings, meeting with the deepest desire to connect and create a loving space between each other.
So, after this clarification, on to the next step:
Once we have been able to connect to each other at this level, we can let the strategies come into play.
What usually alienates us from one another is our “stuckness” in our position. We get entrenched. He does not yield. She does not yield. I do not yield.
Time for the great, big, old “however” here...
However...if I have been able to hear my basic human needs and you have been able to hear your basic human needs and we have been able to share them in an open, receptive and caring space, we are ready to move on and create strategies that work for us both. For example, if the problem was that “he 1” wants to go to the cinema with “he 2” and “he2” wants to go cycling instead, we have a situation of conflicting strategies, hence, in all likelihood two people who will fly into each other’s faces.
If on the other hand “he 1” and “he2” have acquainted themselves with each other’s basic human needs, they are both able to “sit down” and find joint strategies that accommodate all basic human needs of them both. Cinema and cycling do not exclude each other, rather, they can complement each other, at different times of the day. VoilĂ ...new strategy that works for all found.
No compromises needed; all needs of all people involved are met. Is it really that simple? Yes, if there is a deep desire to connect with ourselves and the counterpart, by at least one party.
And to conclude this article, I know this might seem daunting at first; it’s like learning a new language so don’t worry, we will hold you by the hand. Join us now, the introduction is free and thank you so much for taking the time to read all this.

Monday, January 9, 2017

7 tips for healthy and harmonious romantic relationships

1. Love
I know this is stating the obvious. Love. However, love, as in unconditional love. Without judgments or other moralistic implications of rightness or wrongness about yourself or your partner. Create space for understanding and leave judgments outside of
your house door.

Simply put: be open with your partner at all times, on all subjects. For a relationship to be

considered healthy there should be genuineness between the two parties (or more partners, if you choose to have an open relationship). Being real in a relationship is when you do not hide anything from yourself and as a consequence you don’t hide anything from your spouse/partner. This level of intimacy with yourself and your counterpart promotes harmony and understanding between partners.

3. Honesty
Being an open book -very similar to genuineness- creates a clear space that makes it very difficult to have fights or misunderstandings. Honesty means taking full responsibility for our thoughts, for our actions and for our words and to learn and practice that, I invite you to join me, for two free practice concultations, which you can book right now, by clicking here.

4. Expressing your needs
Express your basic human needs to your partner to bring unequivocal clarity. Meeting at the level of basic human needs means finding our common human ground and makes misunderstandings nearly impossible. Basic human needs are, for example: self-expression, personal space, uniqueness, sharing, closeness, etc...
5. Compassion
Accept yourself without chastising or judging yourself. Accept your partner without chastising or judging them. Creating this kind of emphatic space dissolves any potential conflict quickly.

6. Empathy
“Walk in someone else’s shoes”. In other words, try to relate, emotionally, to what is happening within your partner. Are they perhaps feeling disappointed right now? Can you just hold their emotional pain, be there for them? Being heard, accepted and seen are strong basic human needs for many of us. The simple fact of being able to “open up space” for your partner in this non-judgmental, caring way can create a deep and intense bond.

7. Paraphrase
I like to call it, jokingly, parroting...What can paraphrasing do for you? Most of us have what in psychology is referred to as a “mental filter”. We interpret our world based on our own individual, biased standards. The words we hear, the images we see, the sounds we hear, the smells we smell...we give each and everyone of these sensual experiences meaning in our brain. By extension, often we filter the words of the counterpart to mean something quite different to what they were intending. Paraphrasing, repeating to them in our own words what we just believe we heard removes entirely the possibility for misunderstandings. 

If this article speaks to you, I invite you, once again, to join me for two free consultations, which you can book right now, by clicking here.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Away from pain and frustration in intimate relationships. A fast, easy 4-step approach.

This is the first chapter of my FREE e-book, "in 4 steps, to a healthy romantic relationship". In it I share with you the exact method, step-by-step, for reaching a point where no issue is...an issue for long, so go to my website  (by clicking here) now to download it. 

There are many factors that go into creating a healthy romantic relationship. Certainly it helps if two people have some things in common regarding how they like to spend their time together. It helps if we have, in other words, strategies in common. It helps if, for example, we both like to play tennis. It is
healthy relationship advice
Having "things in common" helps. It's not enough though

a strategy that we both use to fulfill our need for playfulness and relaxation, perhaps.
It also helps if we have common understanding around such hot topics as religion and spirituality, around politics, sex, money, children, personal growth and the list goes on.
Yet, as a couple, you can have all of these elements in place and still not have a loving relationship, that is, if one element is missing. Without this essential ingredient, all the other wonderful attributes will not be enough to make the
romantic relationship work.

This essential ingredient?
The willingness to accept that all of us act based on the desire to satisfy our basic human needs.
Why is this element so important?
Because whatever action we take on this planet, whatever strategy we implement in our daily life, it is based on the - often subconscious - desire to fulfill our basic human needs. When I shared this with a friend of mine, he made himself very upset: “Does that mean that we are all totally selfish? What about people like Mother Theresa?”. In his mind, my words translated to: “Your theory suggests we do not care about anyone. What nonsense!”. It took me quite a bit of time and energy to help him see that it means something substantially different. It means that when we reach out to others, we probably fulfill our needs for sharing, contribution, participation, community,
human needs and healthy romantic relationships
Understanding basic human needs are the essential glue
cooperation, empathy, mutuality and probably many, many more
As in the earlier example, I explained we choose to play tennis as a strategy to fulfill our need for playfulness, perhaps also for harmony. When the strategy is that of ordering a Coke, we are fulfilling our need for hydration and while ordering a burger (this is the strategy), we are fulfilling that need for food.
We could, of course, be fulfilling those needs with different strategies: by simply drinking a glass of water and eating a slice of bread. Or a beer and a pasta dish. Or tea and sushi.
Why is this distinction between strategy and need so important?
It is fundamental, because most of us are acutely unaware of our basic human needs. That is where the relationship problems start and in my own experience, I would add, that even more importantly, this is where they end, too (lots of recent university studies confirm this. Ask me for more details if you are interested).
I was recently with an acquaintance of mine. It was early morning. I said “good morning”. She replied: “Hi”. I went further and asked: “how are you today?”. I was genuinely interested in knowing this. She hissed back: “I wish you didn’t ask. I really don't want to speak in the morning”.
While it was a bit of a shock to receive this answer, with this kind of energy, as a coach I am well-trained to be at the receiving end of it.
So, at a later stage in the day, I inquired further. I was able to learn from this person that in the morning she really wishes to meet her need for peace, by using a strategy of remaining silent and by having quiet surroundings. No music. No sounds from outside (the power of double glazing). No talking. Equally - and here I am going to introduce you to the “win-loose game” applied to ourselves- this person meets her need for rest with a strategy of getting up at the very last minute before going to work. By doing so, at the same time, she does not meet her need for ease and harmony as, every working morning, she is in a stressful, tense rush. A “win-loose game” with herself. If she were fully aware of all her needs, she would, in all likelihood, choose different strategies, to fulfill all those needs she has, creating a “win-win game” with herself.
So, anyway, where does her hissing come from?
From her not being aware of her basic human needs. From not having touched upon the importance of identifying her needs for ease and harmony and space. In everyday language, my inquiring about her health was the last drop and she took her tense energy out on me, instead of “owning it”. She took this action, pursued this strategy, instead of acknowledging that she is the only person on this planet able to create peace and harmony in her life.
Try now to imagine what could have happened if this had been a different setting. A different situation. Instead of “a Jerry-with-counseling-skills and his female acquaintance”; two persons involved in a romantic relationship. What would have happened?
Probably hell would have broken loose. Both parties would have taken it
active listening in romantic relationships
When we don't hear each other we create distance
personally. Both parties would have gone into some kind of blame-game.
If, on the other hand, both parties had been able to see that individual needs were not met, the dialogue could have taken on a different shape.
For example, acquaintance and/or lover could have said: “I observe your interest in my health. I feel happy about that. In the morning I meet my needs for space and harmony by having a quiet moment (notice that this “quiet moment” is her strategy). Are you willing to postpone the conversation till I come back from work?”
Now, while this formula might sound a little artificial or robot-like (yes I am a fan of Futurama, by Matt Groening, the same author of the Simpsons…) it includes the four basics of needs-based communication:
An observation: “I observe your interest in my health”. An expression of feelings: “ While I feel happy about that...”. An expression of needs: “...in the morning I meet my needs for space and harmony...”. And, finally, a clear, doable request for the counterpart: “ Are you willing to postpone the conversation till I come back from work?”
Notice that my interlocutor is very fluent in needs-based communication. She even tells me what the strategy is that she employs: “...by having a quiet moment...”
Why is this level of clarity so important?
Because with a similar formula to the one above (create your own and share it with me please so we can “compare notes”) we actually take responsibility for our needs and for how we feel, for where we are, metaphorically speaking, in life. We don't blame anything on others, or on our environment or on ourselves, either. We become observers. Once we become observers, we are really fine-tuning the art of being in touch with ourselves. And when we are in touch with ourselves, we can start using different strategies that are in tune with what we value. Pretty simple in fact, don't you find, too?.
And just as a reminder, this is the first chapter of my FREE e-book, "in 4 steps, to a healthy romantic relationship". In it I share with you the exact method, step-by-step, for reaching a point where no issue is...an issue for long, so go to my website now to download it. (www.plunfy.wix.com/buena-onda-counsel) I would love to hear back from you after you read it, in particular, after how many days of practicing this simple formula did you see an improvement in your relationship(s)? Based on my suggestions, what were you able to do quickly that created a shift in your relationship? I look forward to your e-mail: wishyouhealthyrelationship@gmail.com or on Facebook: @buenaondacounseling

Thursday, October 8, 2015

How to come back from a disconnected relationship.

Picture this: two individuals who clearly have a lot of love for one another, yet don't know anymore how to share it. They end up on a path of mutual recrimination.
Often, with sentences that start with: “you did”, “you said”, “you should”, “you shouldn't”, “the problem with you”, “you hurt me”, “you are not listening to me”.
When we go down this path, we hope that the other person will finally be ready to hear us, and that they will simply quieten down and open their ears.
The problem with this approach is that it obtains the exact opposite of what we would like: the
relationship counseling and coaching. Workshops for healthy human relationships
Picture nuttakit/freedigitalphotos.net
person that we so badly want to connect with, shuts down because they hear judgment and/or criticism. Wouldn't you?
What do we do with our relationship's rut?
 Mr. A and Ms. B, came to one of our relationship workshops because: “We have created a routine set of responses, a pattern if you will, to one another, and we see that we have grown apart. Each one of us is busy with his/her life, and we don't actually communicate. We live under the same roof, yet that seems, unfortunately, to be it. We lost the ability to have fun together, to do things that connect us intimately, to enjoy each other”
It didn't take us long to see that the real issue this couple had was the use of language and mental images of one another. They both believed that the other person was doing or saying certain things that were detracting from each other's lives; specifically, she believed that he was not sharing enough verbally about his intentions; he, on the other hand, believed that many of her behaviors were “nosy and stifling”.
It is no wonder that such dialogues, that imply wrongness of the other party, separate us humans, instead of bringing us closer.

 Understanding each other's basic human needs

Based on this understanding that we all share the same basic human needs, we were able to help them see that A had a strong need for sharing and togetherness and that B had a strong need for autonomy and space, as well as sharing and togetherness.
healthy human relationships counseling
As we moved along through the days of our workshop, it became clearer and clearer to both of them that the dialogue that they had had so far was no longer a viable possibility. Equally, it became clearer to them, with a little help from us, that they actually shared most of the same needs. For example they had some needs whose commonality between the two of them was particularly strong: for closeness, independence, togetherness, autonomy and sharing.
So, now, you could ask: “this is all very well, yet how does this understanding of my needs help me come closer to the person/people that I no longer manage to have a constructive dialogue with?”
Let's continue and stay for a little while on the importance of understanding, and identifying our needs.
As we said before, all of us share the same basic human needs and these needs are never mutually exclusive. A few examples of needs could be: the need for sexual expression, for nutrition, for sharing, for growth, for (personal) space and the list goes on much further.
If we manage to connect to these needs within ourselves (most of us don't, including yours truly often...:-); it takes me my written list of needs to come to see which one it is) we can see that all that we do and say in our daily experience, is geared towards fulfilling these needs.

The only problem in this picture is...a horse and cart issue

relationship counseling and coaching. Workshops for healthy human relationshipsMost of us are unaware of the fact that our doing and saying things are here to fulfill those needs; a clear case of putting the cart before the horse. We go find jobs we don't like -we fulfill our need for financial safety while at the same time we ignore our need for harmony and playfulness-, we get into relationships that are clearly not for us -we fulfill our need for sharing and sexual expression while at the same time we ignore our need for closeness and sharing-, we drink fluids that we don't really like yet we are with a group and believe we have to -we fulfill our need for sharing and belonging while we ignore our need for physical well-being-.

 The solution and the breakthrough?

Well, there is obviously never only one answer, yet, my/our take on it is that if we manage to connect at the level of those basic human needs, the shift to connection can be pretty rapid.
In the case of Ms. A and Mr. B there was a major breakthrough already on the first afternoon of the workshop; Mr B was, for the first time in years, able to hear what Ms. A needed; this breakthrough was possible because both were willing to drop their usual accusatory dialogue, and to try to listen to each other's basic human needs in a loving and emphatic way, as opposed to the “you this” and “you that” dialogue they had come to establish between themselves as a norm.
Their desire to reconnect, so as to be able to fulfill their needs for peace and harmony, led to this major breakthrough. 
When we reach these points, which I/we like to refer to as shifts, or tipping points, we already start from a new point of personal consciousness in the approach to one another.
In fact Mr. A and Ms. B, that same evening, after the daily workshop-session, had a situation that triggered a lot of pain in them both. However, as they had examined and reconsidered their dialogue for the better part of the afternoon, they were able to hear each other in a completely new way.
Instead of accusing each other of some wrongdoing, they tried to identify each other's needs and, although they still lacked the proficiency to do so fully while falling into some old traps, they were, in their own words: “clearly on a different path, literally looking at each other with different eyes, with a dialogue that was much more loving than the day before”.
A path that was connecting, instead of alienating and disconnecting.
As the workshop progressed, we were, all together, able to look at some of the “mistakes” that they were making.

To conclude, while it is easily possible to disconnect from one another with our busy lifestyles and a general lack of intimacy, there are ways to come back. If we take the time to actively listen to each other, the gap can be, pretty quickly, bridged. Focusing on each other's basic human needs is a way to connect to each other at the deepest level, with empathy and compassion.

I realize I was only able to touch the tip of the iceberg in such a brief article, so join all those of you who felt free to e-mail me -by clicking here- with any question (I won't charge you money of course...:-) )

Click on this sentence to go to my web page and get my e-book for healthy relationships now!