We are already two weeks into the new year and already I am thinking it is going fast. Did anyone set a New Year resolution? If so, was it important enough to still be pursuing? I know one area of my life that is always important enough to be working on and also know it is an area I can always get better at: relationships. It seems when one relationship seems to be improving, another not so much. What has been a saving grace for me is a couple books I have recently read, one for the first time and the other maybe the fifth time or more (and I am still learning much as if the first time reading it). I recently had the privilege of speaking to a group of over two hundred people at a training seminar in Wausau on the topic of relationships. It was incredible to see the number of people, students and leaders most both, eager to improve their lives by taking responsibility in improving themselves. As a speaker, I could not have been more warmly encouraged and thanked. What a blessing for me.
The topic of the talk was better relationships through improved communication. Why? Because I see so many miscommunications lead to hurting relationships. If we can increase our effectiveness in communication we can mend many damaged relationships and prevent even more from the hurt. We know people are our most valuable asset. They are what give us the most joy and meaning in life especially close family. Many times husbands and wives think the other is from another planet when it comes to what is meant by their communication, as it can also be with parents and teens. However there is hope, much hope, for improved understanding and relationships.
Some things I found very helpful came from the books “How to Win Friends & Influence People” by Dale Carnegie and “For Parents Only” by Shaunti Fledhahn and Lisa Rice, both incredible reads. First, listening is a priority any time we want communication to go well. How many of us are interrupters or know one? Annoying isn’t it. I found that by really listening, and I must be truly interested in the person I am in conversation with to really want to listen, I must forget about what I want to say and focus on the other’s words, tone, eyes and posture. When I focus with this intensity I can hear way more than words alone can tell. I hear feeling, emotion. With teens a lot of their LIFE is about emotions and if I want a good relationship with them I must understand this. I must be more concerned about understanding their feelings than dealing with issues or solving problems and I can achieve this best through listening intently. I must also be aware of what my tone, eyes, and posture are saying to them.
The second area of importance in communication which improves relationships is showing unconditional love, the heart connection. In “For Parents Only’ kids felt secure and safe to share with their parents when they felt they would be loved no matter how much they messed up. They expected to be disciplined and were fine with that as long as they knew they were important, their relationship was important. Isn’t that true for us all? We want to know someone is always in our corner, have a safe zone. What I learned here was the importance of choosing words carefully, which to say and whether to say at all, at least at that moment. In the past I have usually said to much, however I am learning (even without duct tape). Sometimes a hug with a ‘we will talk more later’ allows emotions to settle and reassurance of the value of the relationship to increase. Parents keeping their voice calm helps the teen regain control and feel safer.
These are just two areas of improving communication that have helped immensely in many relationships in my life. The books I referenced are available through the LIFE company and I am grateful the founders have taken the time to find such helpful information. I know many lives have been changed for the positive. In closing, I encourage everyone who wants to improve relationships this new year to pick up these books and put what you learn into action. You will be pleased with the results.
God Bless, Renee