When clients engage me to help them work through their relationship challenges one of the common themes I hear is that of loneliness. People describe living like roommates. Managing the affairs of the household pretty well but not managing the affairs of the heart. They say things like: “whatever I do it never seems to be enough”
, “we don’t talk like we used to”, “if we try to communicate it ends in a fight”, “I don’t know what to say to get through to him/her” ….. “I don’t know whether to stay or go”.
I work with couples who feel this way about their partners, teenagers who feel this way with their partners, employees who feel this way about their bosses. The pain of feeling not seen and heard, not understood and not appreciated is the same in all of them.
The antidote: better conversations. Real conversations. Conversations that leave you feeling seen and heard, understood and appreciated for being who you are. It is these kinds of conversations that create powerful moments of connection, reorient a relationship from conflict to co-operation and move participants from complaining to problem solving. Great conversations change people for the better. For this reason I call them Catalytic Conversations.
What’s required: a skillful listener
The four things great listeners do well are Reflect, Empathize, Validate and Redirect. Using their words, body language and tone of voice great listeners are able to reflect the details of what the speaker is saying, empathize with and validate the emotions the speaker is feeling, and finally redirect the speaker towards their own inner intelligence to move them forward.
And, they can do all this without feeling drained by the conversation. In catalytic reactions the catalyst is not diminished by the interaction with another element. When we know how to conduct a truly Catalytic Conversation we can have a powerful, transformative effect on others, without losing anything of ourselves in the process.
In the Catalytic Conversations programs I run, this is one of the pieces of feedback I hear consistently: “It’s so much easier to stay engaged in conversation knowing that it’s not up to me to fix or heal or rescue the person!” “I feel like I can simply be present because I’m not worrying about what I can possibly say to help them!” “I’ve seen how when I listen in this way they inevitably figure out what they need for themselves!” “I’m more willing now to give them my attention ‘cos I know I won’t feel as responsible as I used to for finding a solution for them. It’s a relief! ”
If you want to have better relationships at home or work I encourage you to become a more skillful listener. I guarantee you will hear more expressions of gratitude and appreciation from the people around you as you make them feel seen and heard, understood and appreciated. ‘Ears to you!
Jolina Karen is a Behaviorist who guides men and women to be the best leaders, parents, partners and influencers they can be. She combines Psychology, Physiology, Behavioral Kinesiology and The Demartini Method ™ to coach her clients into more satisfying relationships at work and home.
Learn more at jolinakaren.com or call (970) 389-4513