To love someone like most parents love their children is something that you don’t always experience in romantic relationships. In fact, there are many relationships out there, even the really close ones, where the unconditional, non-judgemental, consistent positive regard is not there.
In many relationships there comes a point where you draw the line. You stay behind that line for fear of rejection. The other person in the relationship does not want to see you cross that line, either.
The most exhilarating love of all is the one where you can be yourself, reveal your darker sides and still be loved, warts ‘n’ all. Not to say that people don’t have their secrets, they do. Everyone does. That’s life. I’m really talking about the way we behave with people, how they behave with us and in front of us, and whether your relationship, romantic or not, can withstand that.
There are some people in life who are not great at verbalising their inner feelings, fears, frustrations and concerns. These people can sometimes come across as aggressive people or nasty people when in fact they are perhaps just upset, confused or fed up. In other words, their exterior is not always the correct reflection of their inner state.
When your partner, parent, child or friend is becoming agitated or seems angry, it is sometimes easy to reciprocate in kind. However, you’ll know yourself what happens when you do this. The situation simply escalates. A slightly negative communication, once responded to in kind, can easily escalate into a full blown argument, shouting, wild hand gestures and perhaps even the slamming of a door.
The great news is that a slight change in how you respond can massively change the outcome. In the introduction of my book I state: “As you read on you will notice that this book looks at the subtleties of relating and communication. Amending these subtleties will not have a profound effect overnight, but rather, over time. The current states of your relationships did not come about overnight either. They too came about over time. So give it time, watch how the smallest changes alter your relationships for the better and keep on building on those successes.” One of the reasons I wrote this was that many people overlook the small minute-to-minute moments in their relationship that lead to positive or negative experiences, almost as if those little moments don’t matter.
Just as subliminal messages impact on us significantly, so too do the tiny interactions we have with people on a minute-to-minute basis, whether in our personal relationships or business relationships.
So, here is my tip for you; next time someone is acting in what seems like an aggressive or unpleasant manner with you, do the following:
- bin the temptation to respond in the same way;
- maintain a genuinely warm, caring demeanour with them;
- don’t walk away from them too soon after as they may see this as rejection;
- if you can, lightly touch or stroke them with your finger tips or palms (this shows warmth and affection);
- empathise with how they are feeling based on your understanding;
- ask them questions to understand why they are feeling the way they are;
- again empathise with them when they open up to you.
When you show people that you regard them positively, regardless of how they have just communicated with you, they will feel very warm inside and even loved. Sometimes this approach can make the most seemingly aggressive individual melt in your hands. You know why? Sometimes these individuals have gone through life communicating with people in a way that has invited lots of negative responses and that warmth is something they have not often experienced.
Some people are very hurt on the inside, have lived a life enduring lots of pain, big and small, and unable to process all the pain in a healthy way, they can become inept at communicating in a positive manner, even when they don’t mean to be unpleasant.
Whether you’re handling a difficult prospect, customer or colleague, or a difficult spouse, relative or friend, this approach will help you to connect with the human being on the inside who just wants to be loved and accepted. Who doesn’t?!