People who are a part of implementing change in organizations know that no matter what initial communications are happening in the organization, that pretty much everybody in the audience is thinking some variation of “What does this mean to me?”. In fact, one aspect of the communication plan is to do one’s best to give people this information. Why? Well, two things come to mind: 1) people kind of need that information and 2) it opens them up to be able to hear the rest of the message.
It is well known that when somebody is given shocking news – such as a serious health scare or, in organizations, told their job will be eliminated, they go into a shock state and guestimates are that they hear about 20% of the message – a reason people are sent away with written information they can review (if the communication is delivered well).
This happens in personal relationships also. What happens to one happens to the entire family and we can’t help but go into that “What about Me” place. It can take some conscious effort to set aside your own personal response, often fear or security based, when your partner has something big affect them such as a job change or health scare.
While both conversations need to happen – the one about them and the one about you, see what you can do to focus on the other first and park your instinct to make it about you. Why? Firstly, it is what a supportive partner does. Secondly, when the other person is in that panic/shock/stress place, the only thing they CAN think about is themselves. It isn’t being selfish, it is that the brain can’t go anywhere except me, me, me when in this state.
Using your empathy skills will help bring the other person out of this state to where they can then be more resourceful and actually be willing and able to hear the concerns or perspective of another person. Trying to force somebody to see your point of view in panic mode will only lead to unhappy outcomes – people feeling unheard, unsupported, getting positional. You know the unproductive patterns in your relationship – that’s where you go! Wouldn’t it be better to take a breath, leave your own stuff behind until it can be addressed from a calmer place?
PS: Don’t have any empathy skills??? Better get some. They will help you in ways you cannot even imagine and are a key skill to have in your relationship toolbox.
If you are going through a relationship challenge and want some assistance working it through, contact me at rosalieboulter.ca for an obligation free consultation.