Imagine you’re having an interaction with either your spouse or one of your children. The topic being discussed—the issue at hand—is one that you feel as a partner or as a parent is vitally important; something you don’t want to “get wrong.” The pressure builds upon you as you broach this challenging subject. You plainly don’t really know what to expect. You enter into it in cautious trepidation.
Life has its inevitable twists and turns like the one profiled above. It’s always keeping us on our toes, certainly from the relational context.
The vital truth is this: in any critical interaction (and any banal interaction for that matter) there are a million and more things that could be communicated, as there are a million and more ways to communicate.
Yet, what stands before us are only three possible outcomes and any manner of level to the feelings and responses associated with these outcomes. Our relational interactions and outcomes can only come in the positive, the neutral and the negative. We’d classify them the same and indeed we do in any event, subconsciously.
The key point is, when we’re at an interpersonal Ground Zero, and we’re drawing up covert battle lines in an effort to facilitate important family relationships, a neutral outcome where there’s no collateral damage is quite okay—indeed it’s actually preferable; we bolster trust this way as we communicate our points without seeking “a win.”
LISTENING – HUMILITY IN ACTION
A key tenet of all relationships is hearing the other side of the story; “empathising” in a word—we’ve all heard it, but we need to actually practice it too. “Battle lines” are not drawn devoid of listening; they’re done with the listening. It can’t be any other way.
A neutral outcome is a healthy outcome, especially when we’ve said what we needed to say and we’re quite sure our partner or child has actually heard us. We can at least pray they’ll be thinking about what we said. We give them time to digest it. Sometimes it takes minutes; other times, days or even weeks.
We accept that it’s a neutral outcome and we don’t leverage off it later on. We trust. We have an internal resolve to leave it where it is. If we did leverage off that ‘neutral point’ we’d be harping—I used to be a “harper,” but then I acknowledged it was tiresome for all parties, myself especially. Harping turns the neutral interaction into a negative outcome—for one, for all. We’re defeated again, both of us.
ACCEPTANCE – A FORM OF TRUST
Enter also acceptance. We patently can’t get more from an interaction than we can get—there’s more than simply just us involved. We have to accept that. We have to trust that the neutral outcome is going some small way to better outcomes in the future. Ah, peace, finally!
We trust and accept for our own health and peace of mind... and blissfully, this has very positive affects on our significant others too.
At some point we’ll actually realise, a string (or even a history) of neutral outcomes is sowing for us an important relational legacy; one that builds on a rock solid foundation of constructive, encouraging energy—one of lovely equity.
When we trust the process the outcome most often looks after itself.
© S. J. Wickham, 2009.