1. Give up your right to be right.
It feels sooo good to be right! I do not know a single person who does not enjoy it. It makes us smart, intuitive, more respected and liked. Right? Not really. Especially in our relationship, when we insist on being right, fight over an issue, try to prove ourselves, look for approval, and behave aggressively. In fact, when we try to be right we make it impossible to have a conversation. We can’t really talk to each other, and therefore, we can’t be in a relationship.
How many relationships do you know that have fallen apart due to one person’s unwillingness to give up the right to be right? You may even say: “But he/she was right. It’s the fact. I know it”. But it really comes down to a matter of priorities. What is your priority when it comes to a disagreement; to be right and damage your relationship, or to really communicate and help your relationship flourish?
Giving up your right to be right does not mean that you are going to let anyone abuse you in any way. It just means allowing the other person to have their point of view, which you are willing to consider, or agree to disagree.
If you are right, then you make the other person WRONG. No one likes to be wrong. It would be much smarter to listen to the other person and recognize what works with their point of view instead of what does not.
Most of us prefer to be heard, to say what we want to say, to express ourselves, to get our point across. What would it look like if all of us would do that all the time out loud? There would be no one to listen. Everyone would be talking. In fact, this is exactly what is happening all the time, except that we are talking to ourselves while pretending to listen. We even pretend with our body language to listen when instead we are judging and assessing, evaluating, thinking about what we would say next, thinking about something entirely different, or just simply checking out. We have so much invested in what we think that we actually believe that our own reality is the only valid and the right one, that only our interpretations and meanings are real, good, right and true. We do not even try to consider other peoples views. We just compare them with our own views. If they match, then they are right. If they don’t, then they are wrong. What’s more, we have fixed expectations about what we will hear from the other person – especially the ones close to us –that we have already decided about it. We hear what we want to hear and NOT what’s being said. What are the chances of the other person saying something different and actually being heard? As far as you are concerned, the chances are probably nonexistent.
Consider how your relationship, and in fact your life, would change if you were to listen to the other person as if they may have something crucially important to communicate to you. What if you could actually learn something extraordinary if you only listened without all the thoughts that fill your mind? You might actually hear something. You might even discover something wonderful and new about the other person that would be so surprising to you, and your whole relationship might shift. We were not given two ears and one mouth for nothing. Just consider that. Try it out. Your relationship will improve by leaps and bounds.
3. Be vulnerable
Both of the above skills require you to let your guard down. By talking and being right we think we are asserting ourselves. Instead what is really happening is that our ego takes control. Our ego has only one agenda: to be right in order to survive. We are still driven by the necessity to survive a saber-tooth tiger, but our lower brain with thousands of years programming does not distinguish between a saber-tooth tiger and a simple conversation. In for both cases adrenalin kicks in. So, every conversation automatically becomes a survival situation for us. The only thing that will save us from this self-destructive behavior, is to use our ability to self-reflect and become highly self-aware, to observe our thoughts, feelings and actions. In other words, ask yourself a question: What the hell am I doing? Am I undermining my relationship and my happiness by trying to survive? Survive WHAT? My recommendation…learn to be vulnerable. There is really nothing to survive. The only way to have a great relationship is to let your guard down and be vulnerable. Besides, being vulnerable is very charming and attractive. Try it!
• How important to you is it to be right in a conversation? (scale of 1 to 10)
• Think of some past conversation that has damaged your relationship. Was it worth it?
• Pay attention to what goes on in your mind when you are listening to someone talking, especially when you have something invested in the outcome.
• Notice your feelings when you think you are in a vulnerable position.