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The Benefits of Emotional Intelligence

The Benefits of Emotional Intelligence

Communication Skills

Understand Others, Understand Yourself

EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE: How well do you understand other people? How well do you understand yourself? Do you know how to handle emotionally sensitive moments? Do you manage your feelings in appropriate, healthy ways when you’re feeling stressed or upset? Is it easy for you to connect with others? Do you frequently find yourself in conflict with others? Or do you sometimes have experiences with people that surprise or frustrate you?

All of the above are emotional intelligence questions. What is emotional intelligence? It’s the ability to be self-aware about what you’re feeling, manage your emotions in a healthy way, and have empathy and sensitivity for how other people are feeling… and THEN use all of that information, with intention, in your interactions with others.

The Importance of Emotional Intelligence

Our culture can gloss right over feelings, or minimize their significance when it comes to personal and professional success. But research into emotional intelligence by Daniel Goldman (and echoed by the Harvard School of Business, no less) shows that it accounts for over 90% of the difference in what leads to success or failure in a wide variety of professional endeavors. Emotional intelligence has also been found to be among the most significant predictors of job performance.

But more importantly, emotional intelligence (or the lack thereof) can absolutely make or break your personal relationships.

Emotional intelligence skills are critically important: People who are lower in emotional intelligence will experience frustration and disconnection in their relationships, will feel less motivated and optimistic, and will also generally struggle to get ahead at work — even if they’re incredibly talented.

Emotional Intelligence Self Assessment — Is It Possible?

As critical as emotional intelligence skills are, it can be very difficult to determine how your own EI skills rate. Emotional intelligence is one of those things where you don’t know what you don’t know. It can be very difficult to assess yourself for emotional intelligence. Most people (according to some research, over 95%) believe that they are self-aware and emotionally attuned to others… when they actually struggle significantly in this area. In fact, many people have very little insight into how others are experiencing them.

Signs of deficits in emotional intelligence generally show up as negative results in your relationships, how you feel, and / or your career.

Emotional Intelligence Podcast

Because emotional intelligence skills really are that important, I decided to devote an entire episode of the Love, Happiness and Success Podcast to helping you understand emotional intelligence and how to improve emotional intelligence. In order to make this as meaningful and genuinely helpful as possible, I recruited two of my colleagues: Meagan Terry, M.A., LMFT, and Linda Pounds, M.A., LMFT, both of whom specialize in emotional intelligence assessment and emotional intelligence coaching.

Together, we discussed:

  • Signs of low emotional intelligence
  • Consequences of low emotional intelligence
  • Why some people have higher emotional intelligence than others
  • Emotional intelligence and empathy
  • Why self-awareness is the key first step to developing emotional intelligence
  • How to improve emotional intelligence
  • How to tell if you’re emotionally intelligent or not
  • Different emotional intelligence quizzes and assessment strategies
  • Specific exercises to improve emotional intelligence.

Building Emotional Intelligence

If you are curious to learn more about your own emotional intelligence, and get some tips for how to increase it (or are in a personal or professional relationship with someone who could benefit from learning more) there is so. much. here. We hope that all this information about emotional intelligence and how to develop it supports you and those you care for on your journey of growth!

All the best,

Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby, Linda Pounds, M.A., LMFT, and Meagan Terry, M.A., LMFT

 

 

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Cultivating Emotional Intelligence

by Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby | Love, Happiness & Success

Music Credits: John Ball, “I Feel It”

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Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby is the founder and clinical director of Growing Self Counseling and Coaching. She’s the author of “Exaholics: Breaking Your Addiction to Your Ex Love,” and the host of The Love, Happiness & Success Podcast.

Linda Pounds, M.A, LMFT is a Licensed Marriage/Family Therapist (LMFT) and Certified Emotional Intelligence Leadership Coach at Growing Self. She works with individuals and couples who face the challenge of merging their work lives with personal lives and the impact each has on the other. Her work with leaders and leadership teams includes Emotional Intelligence (EI) Coaching and assessments, leading to a positive impact on individuals and organizations.

THE RELATIONSHIP SPECIALIST | Meagan Terry, M.A., LMFT specializes in helping her clients create happy, healthy, joyful relationships — both personally and professionally. She’s an expert marriage counselor, emotional intelligence coach, premarital counselor, and dating coach.

More Love, Happiness and Success Advice on the Blog

How to Improve Communication — Fast

How to Improve Communication — Fast

Communication Skills

Turn Conflict into Connection

“Why do we keep having the same argument over and over again? How do we move past this?”

As a marriage counselor, I hear this all the time. Whether I’m sitting with a couple in my office for marriage counseling in Broomfield, or meeting with a couple for online marriage counseling, the struggle is real: Couples get stuck in predictable cycles of conflict, and once there, it’s hard to get unstuck.

 

I’m here today to give you a roadmap for how to stop the cycle of arguing, and improve communication in your relationship.

 

First, let’s talk about predictable cycles of conflict. A predictable cycle is when you know that the conversation or the action taking place leads to “the conflict zone,” and yet feels impossible to stop. These moments are not unfamiliar, and often in my couples therapy sessions, these conflict patterns show up in dialogue between partners.

 

Know that you are not alone; Your relationship is not broken. These cycles of conflict are common, but they are also an opportunity for personal growth and growth within your relationship.

 

Research-Based Couples Therapy For Real-World Relationships

 

Dr. Sue Johnson, the primary developer of Emotionally Focused Therapy (an evidence based approach to marriage counseling, and the one I practice), wittily describes these communication patterns as “Demon Dialogues.”

 

Dr. Johnson shares that we most often fall into these ways of communicating when we are feeling disconnected from our partners. I bet that is true for you, too.

 

To interrupt and overcome this pattern within your relationship, you will both need first to understand what it is, and how you can work through it together to cultivate a healthy relationship and connection.

 

Here’s a real-world example of what happens when a negative cycle of conflict takes over your relationship:

 

Joe and Angie sought couples counseling with me after months of “miscommunication,” frequent arguments over reportedly small matters, and lost intimacy. Joe would shut down and withdraw, and Angie would try and try to get him to talk, and get increasingly angry with him when he didn’t seem to listen or care.

 

Angie voiced in their first session the struggle she had getting Joe to communicate within the relationship. She was really frustrated by the lack of emotional intimacy they shared. She felt really disconnected, and she was hurt and angry because it seemed like Joe didn’t care or understand her. Angie felt like she was the only one fighting for the relationship.

 

Joe felt differently; it wasn’t that he didn’t care about the relationship. He cared a lot, and was inwardly upset when Angie was upset (even though you couldn’t always tell from the outside).

 

He felt as though his efforts were overlooked and even when he tried it was never enough to make Angie happy. Deep down he was worried that he didn’t even know what would make her happy, or that he would ever figure it out.

 

Joe found it easier to retreat from his wife’s complaints than to get drawn into an argument that neither of them could win. So he shut down, in part to protect himself but also to protect the relationship.

 

However, as Joe retreated, Angie became more persistent, which led Joe to withdraw further, which made Angie more upset… creating an unending negative communication cycle. This cycle, or dance, continues to grow stronger the more frequently it occurs. (And it occurred more and more frequently as time when on.)

 

Can you relate? Has this happened between you and your partner?

 

If you have, you know that when you are in this dance with your partner, it can feel like a revolving door – one that you both get stuck in and that whirls you around and around. It feels like everything happens so fast, and before you know it you’re in that same argument again.

 

What we often forget when we find ourselves in these patterns is that a revolving door can slow, and we can exit. When we exit this dance with our partner, we can create a new one fostered by empathy, compassion, and connection.

 

Five Steps to Improve Communication In Your Relationship

 

Interrupting this dance and creating one that is increasingly harmonious, liberating, and compassionate is possible for you and your partner. Here are five practical steps you can take together to move into new healthy patterns within your relationship.

 

1.       Name It to Tame It

In order to improve communication in your relationship, you must first see how what you say and do impacts your partner. We cannot change or heal that which we are not aware of. Begin working to notice and increase your awareness of the moves you make in the dance so that you can create a path out. Once you are aware of the dance, you can deliberately choose to not proceed in the usual pattern.

 

Once you are clear about what YOU usually do when you’re heading towards an argument with your partner, you can say so. This way, you can signal to your partner when you notice the conflict cycle, and instead of getting wrapped up into the dance, you can work together to move in a different direction.

 

Need help identifying your dance? Try completing the following exercise by Dr. Johnson: “The more I _____, the more you _____, and then the more I _____, and round and round we go.”

 

For example, once Angie had more self awareness around the feelings that came up for her when Joe shuts down she was able to own them. She could say, “I know I’m getting angry, and I can see that this is shutting you down. The more you shut down, the more upset I get. Let’s do something different this time.”

 

She broke the pattern, and they could finally have a different conversation. (Instead of a conflict!)

 

2.       Stay Present Focused

I know, you hear this all the time but staying focused on the present will allow your relationship to evolve with time. If you remain rooted in the past, you will continue to struggle with past conflicts. If you want to interrupt this destructive dance, then you have to open yourself up to what’s happening at this moment and share it with your partner.

 

If our friend Joe said, “You always yell and criticize me!” in a moment when Angie is calmly talking about her feelings… that’s just not helpful. Staying rooted in the present moment gives you the chance to notice when your partner is trying. Let them be different, and your relationship can change for the better.

 

3.       Be Specific

When you speak vaguely about what is happening in your relationship or expect your partner to pick up on subtle cues (maybe even read your mind) you are not setting yourself up for success.

 

Being explicit about your experience and your needs when speaking to your partner will give them a helping hand in understanding what it is that you need. It can feel overwhelming when we are unsure of what our partners are asking of us – which often leads to a disconnect or emotional shutdown.

 

When Angie started to ask Joe things like, “I would like to tell you about my day and have you ask me questions (but not give me advice.) That would help me feel more connected with you.

Can we do that even for just fifteen minutes?” Joe was very happy to sit with her and listen. That was a much better strategy for both of them than her slamming cabinets in the kitchen.

 

4.       Dig Deeper, Go Beneath the Surface

Anger and frustration are the most readily voiced emotions my clients share in our sessions. I often say that anger is the low hanging fruit – it’s easily accessible, it can protect us, and it signals to others that something is wrong.

 

While anger serves an essential purpose, it often is a sign that other emotions are lingering beneath the surface. These emotions are known as primary emotions. When you identify and share these emotions with your partner during the conflict, you can often grow closer and strengthen your bond.

 

It changed everything for Joe and Angie when Angie could say, “You know, I’m not even angry right now. I’m actually hurt. I feel so sad when it seems like you’re not interested in me, or you don’t seem to care about how I feel.” Joe had a completely different reaction to hearing Angie say she was sad. It made her seem softer, and more approachable. And Joe really loved Angie, and cared that she was hurting. When he could communicate that to her, in a moment of softness, their relationship started to heal.

 

5.       Give Yourself Time and Patience

Above all else, permit yourself to be human and to error as you work hard to interrupt this pattern. This process takes time, patience, continuous effort, and vulnerability. But I believe it is worth all the hard work because it is possible to find a new way to be in a relationship. I believe you can find your way out of a dead end and back into a meaningful connection.

 

Wishing you peace, love, and connection

Brittany Stewart, M.A., LMFT

 

Brittany Stewart, M.A., LMFTC is a couples counselor, individual therapist, family therapist, premarital counselor, and a life and relationship coach. She works with her clients to build connected relationships. Brittany is an attachment-based therapist, and she incorporates models of therapy focused on the emotional bonds between people.

 

Brittany has advanced training in evidence-based models of couples therapy such as Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT) and Gottman Method Couples Therapy.

Available In: Broomfield, CO | Online Video

Read Brittany’s Bio | Schedule Now

Building Better Relationships

Healthy relationships = A happy life. Learn the relationship skills and strategies to make your good relationships great, on this episode of the Love, Happiness and Success Podcast. Read More
Relationship Skills Relationship Coaching Online Life Coach Denver Therapist Online Communication Skills Training Online Therapy Denver

How to Get Your Needs Met in a Relationship

How to Get Your Needs Met in a Relationship

Communication Skills

Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby is the founder and clinical director of Growing Self Counseling and Coaching. She’s the author of “Exaholics: Breaking Your Addiction to Your Ex Love,” and the host of The Love, Happiness & Success Podcast.

Love is Not Enough, Actually

 

How do you get your needs met in a relationship? You can have an over-all great relationship with someone you love very much, and still feel like you’re not really getting what you need in order to feel truly connected and cared for. This can lead to frustrations, especially if your efforts to ask (or hint, or nag, or beg, or control, or get angry repeatedly — no judgment) never lead to real and lasting change in your relationship.

Help is here. On this episode of the Love, Happiness and Success Podcast I’m speaking to a true expert on this subject: Dr. Robert Navarra. Dr. Navarra has decades of experience as a marriage counselor, couples therapist, and addictions counselor and trains other therapists on The Gottman Method of couples therapy— the gold standard in evidence-based couples counseling. He has also pioneered a new, research based method for helping couples reconnect in the aftermath of addiction.

He’s here to share his insight and relationship advice with you, so that you can finally get your needs met in your relationship. Here’s a peek into our conversation:

Advice For How to Get Your Needs Met in a Relationship

1) Build on Your Relationship’s Strengths: Did you know that it’s easier to get your partner to honor your wishes when they feel close and connected to you? That sounds true and simple, but sometimes couples let the sticking points eclipse the positive parts of their relationship. Learn how to start being friends again first, in order to increase the likelihood of getting your needs met

2) Improve Your Communication: The way you say things really matters. Dr. Navarra explains the specific ways of communicating that are likely to get you shut down, ignored, blown up at, or invalidated — and what do to instead. He’s sharing his tips for how to get your message across in a way your partner will be able to hear.

3) Avoid The Three Behaviors That Will Sabotage Your Relationship: In addition for providing you with great skills and strategies to help you communicate, Dr. Navarra explains the behaviors to avoid at all costs. We all know how easy it is to react without thinking when we’re upset. However, by avoiding the pitfalls and mindfully cultivating the pro-marriage, pro-relationship behaviors that Dr Navarra advises, you can greatly increase the odds that your partner will respond to you positively.

4) What to Do When Your Partner Has a Serious Problem: Dr Navarra is a Master Addictions Counselor among other things, so I sprung a listener question on him — What to do if your partner has a problem with alcohol, marijuana or other destructive behaviors? He explains strategies to help your partner, and yourself, stop the madness and grow back together again.

We hope these tips and strategies help you have productive conversations with your partner, so that you can both get on the same page and so YOU can get your needs met in your relationship!

Sincerely,

Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby and Dr. Robert Navarra

PS: Dr Navarra and I discuss a number of resources and websites. Here are the links in case you want to follow up on anything you heard:

 

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How to Get Your Needs Met in a Relationship

by Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby | Love, Happiness & Success

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Building Better Relationships

Building Better Relationships

Communication Skills

Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby is the founder and clinical director of Growing Self Counseling and Coaching. She’s the author of “Exaholics: Breaking Your Addiction to Your Ex Love,” and the host of The Love, Happiness & Success Podcast.

Communication & Relationship Skills To Make Your Good Relationships Great

 
Building Better Relationships: Have you ever left relationship books laying around, or put a relationship podcast on hoping that a certain someone may reflect on their own behavior and be a better partner or friend for you? Have you ever dropped a hint (or SEVEN) to a coworker, boss, or friend about how you feel in your relationship with them, and how you hope they might change?
 
So often, we feel helpless around how to improve our relationships, because we feel like the quality of our relationships depends on what OTHER people are doing or not doing. Relationships are frustrating when it feels like people aren’t communicating well with you, or aren’t meeting your needs, or respecting your boundaries, or are just being plain annoying.
 
It is totally natural and normal to think that our relationships would be better if only the other person got it together. (And hey, that would be much easier! I hear you!) However, needing the other person to be the change you wish to see in your relationships is not just frustrating, it’s disempowering. If you believe that having better relationships are all about how to get someone else to change it deprives you of the ability to actively build better relationships, and leads to a cycle of hurt and resentment.
 
Not knowing how to improve our relationships can lead to feelings of disappointment, resentment, and frustration. When relationship problems go on for too long, these feelings can begin to erode the fabric of our relationships. Hurt and resentment can lead to conflict in our relationships, or even worse, lead us to withdraw.
 
You don’t have to struggle with frustrating or disappointing relationships. There is an empowering path forward, and a way to build better relationships. A way YOU control.
 

Improve Your Relationships, Improve Your Life

 
You deserve to have fantastic relationships. You deserve to feel loved and cared for. You deserve to have your friends, family and partner show up for you. Our relationships — particularly the quality of our relationships — can be the single greatest source of happiness… or pain, anxiety and frustration. Building better relationships with your family, your friends, your coworkers, and your partner can be one of the most powerful strategies to improve your mood, self esteem, and overall happiness and life satisfaction.
 
Research shows that happiness is strongly correlated with the quality of your relationships. (As does health, and longevity for that matter.) The key to building better relationships with everyone starts with you: YOUR ability to communicate, to listen, to be assertive, to handle conflict, to manage your emotions, and to understand others. In short, your soft skills.
 

What Are Soft Skills and Why Are They So Important?

 
This may sound counter-intuitive, but by focusing on your own “soft skills” you can transform your relationships single-handedly. What are soft skills, and why are they so important? Soft skills are communication and relationship skills that contribute to high-quality, harmonious relationships.
 
Soft skills are vital to success in the workplace, happy, healthy marriages, and fulfilling, supportive relationships with friends and family. As a matter of fact “soft skills” are tied for first place with creativity, for the most important qualities that employers are looking for. But aside from your ability to get ahead in your career, investing in improving soft skills can lead to immense rewards in every area of your life. Why? Because although you cannot change others, you can change the way that people respond to you through developing excellent communication and relationship skills.
 

Building Better Relationships: It’s All About Empowering YOU

 
So today, on the Love, Happiness and Success Podcast I’m taking to my colleague (and relationship expert) Kathleen Carroll-Stutts. Kathleen is a life coach, individual therapist and couples counselor here on the team at Growing Self. She is the facilitator of our Online Relationship Skills Group, and is here today to share her system for how to develop yourself so that you can build better relationships with the most important people in your life.
 
Whether you’re hoping to have better relationships with your coworkers, wanting to heal rifts with your family, develop more close friendships, if you want to get better results in dating, or have a better relationship with your partner, you get some ideas about the communication skills and relationship skills that will empower you to get better results with other people.
 

How To Improve Your Communication Skills

 
Listen to our interview to learn how to develop the communication skills and relationship skills that can help you build better relationships. Specifically:
 

Foundational Relationship Skills

  • Self awareness – How understanding yourself, your needs, your feelings and your personal values can help you build better relationships with others.
  • Emotional regulation – How being able to manage your feelings can help you communicate more effectively in relationships.
  • Self respect – How having healthy self-esteem and self-love helps you have stronger and more authentic relationships.
  • Assertiveness – How to develop your voice and your truth in order to communicate your needs, rights and feelings to others.

Intermediate Relationship Skills

  • How to improve your communication skills by cultivating both self-expression skills as well as listening skills.
  • Setting boundaries – How to set appropriate and healthy limits with others.
  • How to manage conflict.

Advanced Communication Skills and Relationship Skills

  • Identifying our triggers – How to use our self-awareness, self-respect, and communication skills to avoid situations that would be bad for us and bad for our relationships.
  • Empathy – Learning how to understand the needs, rights, feelings and perspectives of others, and how to use that awareness to improve communication and build better relationships.
  • How to cope with relationship challenges including dealing with toxic people, how to deal with criticism, and what to do with bullies.

 

We sincerely hope that this episode of the Love, Happiness and Success Podcast helps to give you some direction for building better relationships in your life!

xo,
Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby and Kathleen Carroll Stutts, M. Ed., LPC

 

Resources:
 
Personality Test: Enneagrams
 
 

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Building Better Relationships

by Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby | Love, Happiness & Success

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Relationship Advice: How to Stop “Fixing” and Start Listening

Relationship Advice: How to Stop “Fixing” and Start Listening

Communication Skills

Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby is the founder and clinical director of Growing Self Counseling and Coaching. She’s the author of “Exaholics: Breaking Your Addiction to Your Ex Love,” and the host of The Love, Happiness & Success Podcast.

Strengthen Your Relationship, With Every Conversation

We all hate to see our partners in pain or discomfort. I know this as a marriage counselor and couples therapist, but it is certainly true for me personally too. When my husband tells me he’s unhappy with something, my mind immediately starts race towards the “fix” that will solve the problem, and make him feel better.

While my type-A solution-focused attitude certainly has led to some important, positive changes in the way we conduct day-to-day aspects of our partnership (like, we now have a Roomba!) it can also get in the way of emotional connection. He doesn’t want me to solve his problems. He wants me to listen, and care, and empathize — exactly what I want when I’m struggling with something.

When I express displeasure / annoyance / sadness about something, and he immediately goes to, “Well let’s just not do that,” or “Forget I brought it up,” it feels like a door gets slammed shut in my face. I want to talk things through. I want to hear how he feels, too. Most of all, I want to feel like I’m not alone in whatever is feeling real for me in that moment. When I just get to talk about how I’m feeling, and have that be heard, most of the time no “action” is even required — I just feel better.

Connection is key. Solutions don’t even matter that much, when you’re feeling validated.

Men often get a bad rap for being problem solvers in relationships, although plenty of women do the same. Let’s face it: When our partners have a problem (especially if they have a problem with us, right?) it’s anxiety-provoking. It feels like an unpleasant conflict that we need to resolve, or shut down, or get away from. Or fix — and as quickly as possible.

However, what I know now, both as a marriage counselor and someone who’s been very happily married for over twenty years: You have to lean into the feelings, even if they stress you out at first.

When you can manage your own anxiety and avoid scrambling to get away / shut down / fix-fix-fix whatever they’re bringing up, you can then connect emotionally with your partner. More importantly, they won’t have to fight to feel heard by you. Consequently, you will come out the other side of this conversation with a stronger relationship.

Paradoxically, when you indulge those good intentions of “helping them feel better” it will either create a fight (trust me) or it will lead them to leave the interaction with you feeling unheard, not understood, or like you don’t care. Why? Because in your helpful rush to solve their problems, you shut down their feelings and got in the way of what they really wanted and needed from you: Being heard.

Here are a few tips to help you avoid jumping the gun and going into “fixit mode.”

Know your job: When your partner is feeling something real, your only jobs — your only jobs — are to help them talk about their feelings, listen to them, help them understand that you understand, and hold the door open for them to talk all the way through. Anything else is not what they need. (Unless they specifically ask for something else.)  But unless you literally hear the words, “What do you think?” or “What would you do?” come out of their mouths, you’re the doorman: The one who keeps the space open for them to share. Not the fixer.

Validate: Embrace the power of validation. Even if you see things differently, or would handle a situation differently, simply acknowledging that someone has the right to their feelings is enormously helpful. I can’t tell you how powerful a simple, “I can understand why you would feel that way” is to hear. Confirmation, validation, and acceptance are vastly more effective in helping someone sort through a difficult situation than actual, specific advice. 

Listening: When I talk about listening, I don’t mean just “hearing.” I mean a special kind of reflective listening, which is a learned skill. Whether or not you are hearing what someone is saying doesn’t matter. What matters is if they know that you are hearing and understanding the feelings they are trying to communicate. If your number one is telling you about the super-hard day they had, listen for the feelings underneath. If you can reflect back, “That sounds really exhausting” as opposed to “You should talk to your boss about rearranging your work schedule” they may fall into your arms weeping with relief of knowing that you really and truly get them.  Just be prepared for them to get super-excited when you do this. Seriously, if you do a really good job here, they might cry.

Open-ended questions: You’re the doorman, right? How do you hold the door open in a conversation? By asking open ended questions: Questions that do not have an agenda or a specific informational answer, but are rather an invitation to say more. “How did you feel about that?” or  “Then what happened?” or “What do you make of this?” are all solid choices.

Empathize: People are different, and have different ways of thinking, feeling, behaving. We have different values and priorities. However, in order to really connect with someone, you need to understand how they are feeling by connecting to your own emotional experience. When your partner is going through a moment, scroll through your own life experiences to see if you can relate.**

Then use that awareness as an opportunity for an even deeper kind of reflection: Tentative guessing about how they feel. When your partner is telling you about their super hard day, and you reflect on how you’ve felt when your day at work has been a non-stop crap-show, you’ll be able to come back with something that rings true for them, like “I can imagine that you must be feeling really disappointed in your leadership right now.” This, again, will increase their sense of being heard and understood by you, and will help them feel connected and supported by you. More weeping with joy may ensue.

** Warning: It can be tempting and very easy to totally hijack a conversation via empathy, if you’re not careful. When you say, “I totally know how you feel. One time at band camp…” and then spend the next five minutes telling YOUR story, you’ve just turned the tables and made their moment your moment. Trust in your relationship: If you do a good job listening and holding the door open until they are all the way through, you will likely have a very appreciative partner eager to do the same for you. [Unless you are partnered with a legit narcissist. Check back for a post on this topic soon.]

Breathe: Sometimes, when you are listening to someone talk about their feelings, especially if their feelings are big, intense, dark, or worst yet — about you, it can be hard to not get emotionally reactive. When YOU start having feelings come up, or feel the need to rebuttal / correct / problem solve, you’ve just stepped out of the ring of connection. You’ve abandoned your post as the doorman. Trust in your relationship.

Breathe, be in the present, listen to the sound of their voice, look in their face, listen, reflect, ask your open ended questions, and be patient. Let them talk all the way through. It may take a whole HOUR. That is okay. Be patient, breathe, and you’ll arrive at connection eventually. Promise. (I can also promise that if you indulge any of your impulses to do otherwise you’ll very likely wind up in a fight.)

Couple’s Strategy: Ask your partner to alert you to what she is needing. It’s not fair for anyone to expect their partner to always know exactly what they need, particularly when it comes to emotional support. SO many things changed at my house, when my husband and I figured out that if one of us literally said, “I need to talk through something with you, no action is required. Please just listen?” we could immediately drop into “patient, non-reactive listening mode” rather than “oh-crap-they’re-upset-what-are-we-going-to-do” mode.

This is a strategy we also routinely teach our couples in marriage counseling here at Growing Self. Ask for what you need, and give your partner a heads up so they can do a great job at supporting you in the way you need to be supported at that moment. Because truthfully, in different situations you might need different things, right? If you’re like most people, sometimes you need a warm shoulder to cry on, sometimes you need a good listener, sometimes you need a hug, and sometimes… just sometimes… you might even want some advice.

With love,

Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby

 

Growing Self Counseling & Coaching
Growing Self
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