After a long and tiring week, Rajiv is looking forward to Sunday. No alarm to wake him up, no schedules, no meetings. He has just settled down with t2 when he hears wife Diya say: " There is no milk and bread in the house." Rajiv decides to get them in the evening when he would go out.
Half an hour later, they have the following conversation:
D: Why haven't you got the milk and bread? How will we have breakfast?
R: ( Surprised) But you never told me to get the milk and bread now!
D: Rajiv, didn't I tell you that there's no milk and bread in the house? Last evening we discussed that we had run out of eggs.
R: But you didn't tell me! D: Don't lie! You just want to read your paper and don't care about anything else.
Falling in love and staying happy in a committed long- term relationship are two different things. Many of us, men and women alike, look at relationships as a kind of destination, rather than a journey. We act as though there is an unwritten law that just because we are now together, we will remain together forever. The reality is, a relationship needs constant work from both the partners to keep the spark alive. It needs understanding, commitment and action on an everyday basis. And the key to this is clear communication.
There are three components of communication.
Sender: What I mean to say.
The message: What I actually say.
Recipient: What is understood, or the outcome.
In Neuro- Linguistic Programming (NLP), the purpose of communication is to bring about a desired outcome. Unless it fulfils the desired outcome, it is ineffective. Now let's take Diya's example.
What Diya meant to say: Please go buy milk and bread. We need it for breakfast.
What Diya actually said: There is no milk and bread in the house.
What Rajiv deduced: I'll pick it up in the evening.
Communication has a verbal and a non- verbal component. The tone of the voice, body language, facial expressions and genuineness — all play a huge part. One needs to develop the skill as a sender as well as a receiver for effective and harmonious communication.
Try these 12 steps and watch how your relationship with your partner gets better by the day:
1) Communicate: When talking to your partner, be open to his/ her point of view. Make sure your partner does not feel rejected as an individual.
Communicate regularly and often to let your partner know that you care for him/ her. Your love is not an automatically ' understood' fact.
2) Be specific: There are various ways to interpret the same sentence.
Avoid ambiguity and be as specific as possible.
3) Express your needs: What is ' common sense' for you may not be so for your partner.
4) Take responsibility for your needs: Do not give justifications like ' Everybody needs appreciation'. If you need it, say it clearly: ' I need your words of appreciation now and then to motivate myself. Could you please do that?' Do not get irritated at having to remind your partner often. Old habits die hard.
5) Request, don't demand: Remember there is no universal law that your needs have to be fulfilled by your partner. But you can always request him/ her to help you get what you want.
6) Reach out: Express your love verbally and non- verbally casually or after an argument. A hug, some flowers, spending quality time or an occasional surprise gift go a long way in reassuring that you are there for him/ her. It's a must in most relationships.
7) Avoid sentences... like ' because of you...', ' you do/ don't...' Instead of blaming the other, focus on solutions.
Also, steer clear of judgemental sentences like ' you are selfish/ you don't care/ you are a liar'.
8) Be respectful: Just because he/ she is close to you does not mean you can behave with them whatever way you like.
9) Listen: When you are listening, ' be there'. Truly. Ask your partner, ' Are you okay?' and then listen to what they have to say.
10) Do away with your agenda: When you are listening, stop thinking how to prove your partner wrong, or how to make your point clear. Instead, acknowledge your partner's feelings.
11) Wait, be patient: Let your partner finish what they have to say. Save your views till your partner is done expressing theirs. Be willing to take turns even when it's a heated argument.
12) Make empathy the norm: Empathy does not mean you have to always agree with what your partner is saying. It means you do not judge them just because they have a different take than yours. Avery D. Weissman, professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, describes empathy as ' respect for another person's irrationality'.