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Connect

Connect

by David Bradford, Ph.D., Carole Robin, Ph.D.

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Exceptional relationships

Exceptional relationships can be developed. They have six hallmarks:

  • You can be more fully yourself, and so can the other person.
  • Both of you are willing to be vulnerable.
  • You trust that self-disclosures will not be used against you.

It has several characteristics.

  • One is a willingness to let go of the idea that your way of doing things is always best.
  • Another is being game to try new things and take the risk of making mistakes.
  • A third is seeing mistakes as learning opportunities rather than som...

Most of us have countless interactions each day with people who don’t really know us well. At times, you may yearn for deeper and more meaningful connections, but you don’t always know how to get there.

Letting yourself be more fully known is crucial to developing exceptional rel...

Try the 15 percent rule

Consider three concentric rings that represent decreasing safety as you move out from the center.

  • In the middle, is the Zone of Comfort: what you feel completely safe to say or do.
  • The outermost ring is the Zone of Danger: things you wouldn’t ...

Social scientists call the belief in our ability to act in the world “having agency.”

But too often, people think they have no choice in how to respond to what has happened to them.

In the absence of data, people will make stuff up. Everybody draws conclusions when interacting with others. The less we reveal, the more others will fill in the blanks in order to make sense of what they see.

When we are too reserved with our feelings,

Empathy is the act of conveying not only that you understand the other’s feelings but also that you can identify with them. It is different from sympathy, even though they’re often used interchangeably.

Sympathy involves acknowledging someone is in pain and providi...

This has several dimensions.

  1. Are you speaking to what they want as opposed to what you want?
  2. Are you responding at the same emotional level?
  3. Are you seeing the world as they see it?
  4. Are you not responding to what the other real...

It is a lot more complicated than it seems.

  1. You truly don’t understand something at all. The best way to make sure your curiosity is authentic is to hold the mindset that, in spite of how perceptive you think you might be and how well you think you know another person...

Asking the right kind can help encourage someone to share.

  • Open-ended questions widen the scope of the conversation by generating options, new perspectives, or new ways of thinking about a situation. The most effective open-ended questions don’t begin with the word “w...

Advice-giving makes it easy to misunderstand what the other really wants. People go to others for many reasons. Perhaps they want a chance to think out loud. Perhaps they simply want to vent and seek a sympathetic ear. Sometimes they just want support and empathy, rather than hel...

For a relationship to be sustainable, each person has to have enough of their needs met, and each must give things up.

Over time, the benefits have to exceed the costs. As relationships develop and each person allows themselves to be more fully known, the two of them can l...

Costs of large discrepancies

Influence discrepancies exist in most relationships, though minor ones are rarely a barrier to talking honestly and coming to an effective solution.

However, a significant difference in influence often results in a dysfunctional cycle. 

  • Assuming that your needs are secondary to the other’s
  • Not listening to your feeling
  • Letting yourself be interrupted
  • Backing down when someone disagrees with you
  • Avoiding conflict—not disagreeing with the other

The information may say something about the giver, and it may say something about the receiver. But it is all data, and more data is better than less. Quite simply, you’re better off knowing than not.

Accepting the validity of someone’s feedback also doesn’t mean ...

People use the “feedback sandwich,” thinking it will make difficult feedback easier to hear: starting with something positive (to soften up the other person), then saying something negative, and ending with something positive so they will feel good.

Unfortunately, this approach ra...

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