This mistake is common in relationships, especially in a relationship that has successfully navigated the honeymoon period and has settled down in to the routine of every day living. It is such a serious mistake that the crisis that it brings about can cause the relationship to be terminated, suddenly.
No, I am not talking about infidelity. I am talking about a pattern of communication that every one to some extent uses at one time or another, unless you know what you are looking for. When you see yourself doing it or your partner doing it, it is simple to change that pattern.
Deleting Information Causes Anxiety
Let’s imagine this scenario. There is a couple and they have been married for two years and they are deeply in love. They share common goals and values and yet…they were faced with a crisis. Both people believed that the other partner could not “hear” them and worse, did not understand them.
They both felt that they were talking at cross purposes and this was causing massive anxiety in the relationship.They each had come to the conclusion that, even though they loved each other very much, they couldn’t live with each other in this manner any more. They were ready to pull the plug.
Deletions of information occur all of the time. We wouldn’t be able to function in our world if our brains did not screen out most of the details that our brains are bombarded with on a daily basis.
Can you imagine how much more time it would take us, if our brain had to catalogue colors, noises, scents, etc., over and over again, instead of storing the memories of them?
While deletions work for us in aspects of our lives, when we are in relationship, they can cause anxiety, misunderstanding, anger, and frustration.
Being Aware of the Magician In All of Us
Are you familiar with magic tricks…the magician instructs you to focus on something…and while you are doing that, out of your awareness, he is doing something else…and so, it looks like magic…yet, it is just a deletion…he does it in plain sight…you just don’t see it…your brain deletes the information.
In the case of our lovely couple, when the husband said “X”, his wife heard “Z”. Neither one was hearing the entire story; they were only hearing a part of the story because they each deleted information. After the deletion, they added in their own version of events.
Does X = Z? (this is known as a complex equivalence) Absolutely not…and yet, let’s follow a conversation and let me know if any of it sounds familiar…
“I never get any help with the housework; the house is too hard to keep clean, you are lazy” Bethany, the wife, says.
“I do help you with the housework. I took the garbage out yesterday. You never notice anything that I do. You take me for granted.” Jack, the husband, retorts defensively. And so the fight is on, neither of them understanding the other.
Bethany can’t see the housework that Jack actually is doing. She has wrapped it up and hidden it from her mind, in a series of deletions, complex equivalences, and assumptions that happen quickly beneath her awareness. That is often called "not seeing the forest for the trees".
Building a Communication Bridge in 3 Simple Steps
Instead of feeling defensive and taking it personally, do this instead:
- Step back and look at what has been said. When you put a distance between the words and your emotions, you gain perspective. You can see the situation more clearly.
- Ask this question: “Is it true?” Whoa…what? Yes, ask if it is true. Is there any basis in reality? Is there anything at all there, even a little part that you recognize as true?
- Acknowledge that truth so that you have agreement. When you have agreement, on some level, you re-establish rapport. Then you can move forward, together.
When both partners ask those questions of themselves, they will clear barriers to communication. Bethany and Jack were able to sit down and look at their responses.
“Is the house too hard to clean?” There was an element of truth there. Yes, they agreed that the house was difficult to clean because of the size. That led to more questions. “What can we do to make it easier to clean?” “Do we need to dejunk the house?”…and so on.
When you are in partnership and delete information, it can lead to a crisis that can topple the relationship. Over time, resentment can build up, even over the simple things and quite often, it is a little thing that is “the last straw that broke the camels back”.
The piling up of the small things and the little misunderstandings damage relationships. The crisis that came out of the blue often has its’ origins in the day to day bad communications.
Be proactive and start now. Take a look at the information that is actually being given to you in your relationships and make these small, simple changes. You might be surprised at what happens.
“Drive your own life…you deserve to, don’t you?” Sherie Venner
Image Credit: Idea go
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