Have you ever had the experience, “He (or she) doesn’t get me….we’re not on the same wave length…we keep missing each other.” Pretty frustrating, isn’t it? In my 45 years as a relationship coach, I have discovered that most misunderstandings are preventable if people can master what I call “the 15 statements necessary for relationship success.” Here’s a quiz you can take right now to see how many of these 15 essential statements are already in your communication repertoire. After you take and score the quiz, please read my closing comments about why communication can be so difficult and how to become a more effective communicator.
Can You Make These Statements?
Take a look at the 15 statements below. Next to each statement, write 0 if it would rarely or never occur to you to say this, 1 if you might occasionally make this statement, and 2 if such a statement is typical of your style.
1. Hearing you say_________, I feel_______. (e.g. Hearing you say, “When are you going to fix the fence,” I feel some resistance coming up in me.)
2. I want you to listen and hear me out before responding.
3. I’m sorry. If I had it to do over, I would_______.
4. Tell me more about why you feel/think/see it that way. (useful when you do not immediately agree with something)
5. I didn’t mean to hurt you. What I wish I’d been able to communicate is_______.
6. I’d like to make it up to you/to make amends.
7. Could we sit down and talk about something that’s on my mind?
8. I’m feeling unfinished about that recent conversation between us. Could we talk about it?
9. I need some time before I respond to you.
10. I see it differently than that. May I tell you how I see it?
11. I think/favor/want____.What do you think/favor/want?
12. I appreciate you for______(something specific the other person did or said).
13. I want______How does that work for you? (Or “Is this something you can give?”)
14. I feel crummy about what just happened. Can we talk about it?
15. I notice myself getting defensive. I think I’m getting triggered.
The highest possible score is 30, and the lowest would be 0. The higher your score, the higher is your likelihood of having successful relationships. Here is a breakdown of what your scores might mean:
0-9: You probably find yourself frustrated in relationships more often than you would like. Perhaps the Getting Real practices will open your eyes to new possibilities.
10-15: You have a high aptitude for relating and are open to learning. You will probably find the Getting Real practices compatible with your style.
16-24: You have good relationship skills and have the aptitude to take your skills to the highest level if you wish. Keep using these phrases with others. Keep taking risks to clear the air and keep it clear.
25-30: Your capacity for present-centered relating is already at a very high level. Congratulations! By continuing to practice and develop your in-the-moment awareness you will be helping others become better communicators. Awareness is contagious…pass it on!
Whatever your score today, you are now aware of these statements. If you use them consistently, you’ll experience more success and fulfillment in your business and personal relationships.
Why is Communication So Complicated?
Communication between people is a multi-layered thing. In any communication event there are two important aspects to be aware of: the content level and the feeling level. The content level consists of the facts or information being exchanged, as in “No, I’m not interested in seeing that movie.” The feeling level consists of the feelings that are present in both the speaker and the listener—how the speaker feels saying “No” and how the listener feels hearing “No.”
These 15 statements help you become more aware of the feeling level of a communication—so you do not leave the conversation with a sense of frustration or unfinished emotional business. They assist you in addressing your present-time feelings. They help you clean up the old business from recent unsatisfying interactions, so you don’t build up more unfinished business. And they bring your awareness into the present moment. When you are aware of your present-time feelings and reactions, you’re more “all there” in the interaction, so you will naturally feel more confident and less prone to over-react out of fear.