Communication: How to deepen emotional intimacy and improve understanding.
Most of our communication habits are less than ideal. There are dozens of plausible explanations for why, but perhaps it was never really modeled for us. Popular family sitcoms mock and demeaning each other and our own family histories are not bastions of empathy and understanding. Few, if any of us, have ever seen what good communication should look like, let alone experienced it for ourselves.
Consequently, most of us our communication ends up sounding something like "I'm angry at you because you're an idiot."
In an effort to provide something of value, here are a few of my communication suggestions from the last 10 years of counseling.
Emotional Intimacy cannot exist when we communicate from a position of power, pride or defensiveness.
Empathy and understanding flounders when communication is driven by emotion, especially unconscious attempts to maintain our own power and pride. There are several behaviors that fall under this umbrella including conscious decisions and automatic reactions. Both will prevent us from developing additional understanding and empathy.
The following are ego driven, non-starters for emotional intimacy:
If either party is engages in these any of behaviors, a natural barrier to trust and compassion forms.
Communication for emotional intimacy must include responsibility for our actions.
Although some conversations can be very difficult, intimacy can be deepened and strengthened through conflict. Conflict intimacy can only occur when there is a willingness to manage our own defensiveness, anger and reactivity.
The following are emotionally mature ways to listen to others:
The following are emotionally mature ways to share with others: