So much of any relationship comes down to your ability to communicate effectively. However, even with the best of intentions, most of us screw up now and then.
There’s always a huge learning curve at the beginning of a relationship. What’s okay to say and what’s not? You would think that you should just be able to be yourself, but that’s not always the case.
Some people have very strong filters and others don’t. We all have that one friend that has no filter what so ever. And, for the most part that works really well for them. If you try to speak without a filter, it usually comes out wrong or is taken in the wrong context.
I’ve come under fire in a couple of different situations because I didn’t use quite as much filter as some people would like. Then I have to ask myself the question, “Did I cross a line?” The answer is not always so easy to determine.
Where is the line?
That’s the million-dollar question! You see, the line changes with every person you talk to. How well do you know them and what is your relationship with them? Is it business or personal?
Generally with a business acquaintance you’re going to use more of a filter than with a personal relationship.
How far along is your relationship? Have you been dating for a while or just a couple of dates?
As you get to know someone, you tend to let your guard down. You open up and share more. In some rare situations, you may feel a really strong connection and you may be more open and relaxed and not use as much filter.
A problem arises if the other person is not quite feeling the connection or is much more guarded to begin with. Then you start tip-toeing through a mine field in hopes that you don’t say anything that hurts or offends even if it’s said with the best of intentions.
You run the risk of losing yourself.
When you find yourself having to watch what you say, you run the risk of losing yourself. Relationships can quickly become troubled when one or both of you have to start watching what you say.
Is she offended by your sense of humor? Is he offended by what your critiques of him? If either or both of you are having to walk around on egg shells to make sure that you don’t start a fight or offend the other person, it’s time to start questioning the relationship…or at least your communication style.
If you have significant time invested in each other, see if there is a way you can figure out how to communicate more effectively. If your relationship is relatively new, you may just want to move on and save the trouble of trying to figure out how to communicate effectively with each other.
There are going to be times that no matter how hard you try, it’s just not going to work.
When do you earn the right to have input in my life?
This is another great question! Some of you think you have the right to have input in someone’s life from day one…your first date. Others are more laid back and cautious.
In general, it takes time to get to know someone and earn their respect. You’re much more likely to have a positive impact when you’ve spent time earning the respect of your partner.
Are you capable of commenting or giving advice without being hurtful?
People without much of a filter tend to not care significantly about how you feel when they tell you something.
Others tend to shy away from any kind of direct comments and can dance around a subject in hopes that you will eventually catch on to what they are trying to say.
Don’t tell me what to do!
You have to earn that right. You have to get to know someone. You have to learn what makes them tick. You can’t jump in and assume that they don’t have a brain, or that they don’t care, or that they can’t figure things out for themselves.
Yes, you may disagree. And yes, they may eventually come to the same conclusion or decision that you think they should make. They just have to make it their way and in their time.
Maybe you’re not used to having some that can think for themselves.
If you’ve been with weak and indecisive people in your past, you’re making a mistake by treating your new relationship the same way as you’ve dealt with past relationships.
You just might get a response like this: “I’m not your ex. I’ll give you an intellectual challenge that you’re not used to. I’ll make you think. In the end, I’m an adult and can think for myself. Don’t treat me like a child.”
Paying your dues.
In any relationship, you can’t just jump in and start telling someone how they should live their life. You haven’t earned that right.
That right comes with time and experience. You have to spend time getting to know someone, learn what’s important to them and what’s not. You have to respect their wisdom and insight even though it might conflict with yours.
It isn’t until you’ve earned their respect that you can become more direct with your opinions. Until then, the best you can do is suggest the best course of action.
You can be the most caring person in the world and have nothing but the best of intentions. It doesn’t mean a hill of beans until you’ve shown your respect and your willingness to understand your partner that you can start to earn the right to be a trusted resource in their decision-making process.
To learn more about what to look for in a great relationship please check out my blog #220 – The 8 Key Elements of an Extraordinary Relationship.
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