Communicating with heart

heart-968777_640At one of my Wishful Thinking Women gatherings this weekend we talked about a wonderful way to improve communication with those you love, care about or work with. I first shared this post in 2011, and after talking about it on Saturday, I thought now would be a great time to re-post it. Enjoy!

Would you like to improve your relationships with your kids, your spouse, significant other, friends, extended family and co-workers?

If so, try the method Dr. Martin Seligman describes in his latest book, Flourish: A Visionary New Understanding of Happiness and Well-Being. Seligman is the father of positive psychology and in Flourish he discusses PERMA, the 5 pillars of well-being:

P – Positive emotion (happiness, fun, gratitude);

E – Engagement (flow – loosing ourselves or becoming completely absorbed in our work, our hobbies, or the moment);

R – Relationships (those that touch our hearts, our souls and our minds);

M – Meaning (a sense of purpose and fulfillment in our lives) and

A – Accomplishment (learning and moving forward with endeavors big and small and knowing and using your strengths).

Today, I’m focusing on only one aspect of PERMA – Relationships, and how to create better connections.

Dr. Shelly Gable, a researcher and professor of social psychology at UCSB, took a positive psychology approach to love and marriage research and discovered that how couples celebrate the good times, is a stronger indicator of the strength and resiliency of relationships than how they fight or deal with negative situations. This might not seem like a big deal, but for decades psychologists have been researching and trying to fix conflict or breaks in relationships rather than focusing on what make them stronger.

“Shelly Gable turns all this on its head. She is one of the few who work on what makes a marriage great, and her work holds a crucial lesson for all of us who want to transform a good relationship—marriage, parent, or friendship—into an excellent one.”

Gable developed the chart below to show and categorize how people communicate in response to good news. Read the chart and decide where the majority of your responses fall. (Be honest – awareness is the first step of change!)

Next, observe yourself in action this week to see if your reactions fall squarely where you think they do. If you discover that your actions are not speaking as constructively as you would like, follow these steps and in no time you will be seeing positive results.

  1. Pay attention. Let the person who is talking to you “see” that you are listening. Look them in the eye, turn your body toward them. Smile, laugh, touch them.
  2. Say something positive: “Oh, Susan, that is wonderful.” “I’m so excited for you.” or whatever words work for you. Let your choice of words and the way you say them show your excitement.
  3. Ask questions: “When did you get the good news?” “How did you find out?” And, then follow-up with a sincere “Tell me all the details.” or “You must have been so excited, tell me all about it.” Any words that show your honest interest are the perfect words. You don’t need to overdo it, just ask and then listen – actively. Stay involved in the conversation so the person you care about, can share and savor the good news with you. Let the conversation be all about them.
  4. Suggest a way to celebrate. “Let’s go out to dinner to celebrate.” “Let’s open a bottle of wine.” Let’s go to the movies.” “Let’s . . . ” simply fill in whatever you know the person or child would really enjoy.

If you’re involved in a conversation and you realize that you aren’t responding as you would like, no problem. Simply stop and ask for a do-over. Say something like “You know what, I don’t think I’m being as positive as I can be about your good news, can we start over?” And then, do it. Your listener may be surprised, but will appreciate it.

Active/Constructive communication works so well, you may notice immediate results. Seligman shares a wonderful story in his book about an Army sergeant, who began actively and constructively responding to his young son and reported “about halfway through the conversation, my son interrupted me and said, “Dad, is this really you?” The sergeant’s new approach made his son uneasy at first, but within a few minutes the happiness in the boy’s voice shared just how much his Dad’s attention and approval meant to him. (Seligman has designed and iimplemented a very successful resiliency program for all Army personal, which includes the concept of PERMA.)

Give active/constructive communication a try, and let us know how it works.

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Active, constructive

Would you like to improve your relationships with your kids, your spouse, significant other, friends, extended family and co-workers?

If so, try the method Dr. Martin Seligman describes in his latest book, Flourish: A Visionary New Understanding of Happiness and Well-Being. Seligman is the father of positive psychology and in Flourish he discusses PERMA, the 5 pillars of well-being:

P – Positive emotion (happiness, fun, gratitude);

E – Engagement (flow – loosing ourselves or becoming completely absorbed in our work, our hobbies, or the moment);  

R – Relationships (those that touch our hearts, our souls and our minds); 

M – Meaning (a sense of purpose and fulfillment in our lives) and

A – Accomplishment (learning and moving forward with endeavors big and small and knowing and using your strengths).

Today, I’m focusing on only one aspect of PERMA – Relationships, and how to create better connections.

Shelly Gable, an assistant professor of psychology at UCLA, took a positive psychology approach to love and marriage research and discovered that how couples celebrate the good times, is a stronger indicator of the strength and resiliency of relationships than how they fight or deal with negative situations. This might not seem like a big deal, but for decades psychologist have been researching and trying to fix conflict or breaks in relationships rather than focusing on what make them stronger.

“Shelly Gable turns all this on its head. She is one of the few who work on what makes a marriage great, and her work holds a crucial lesson for all of us who want to transform a good relationship—marriage, parent, or friendship—into an excellent one.”

Gable developed the chart below to identify and categorize how people communicate in response to good news. Read the chart and decide where the majority of your responses fall. (Be honest – awareness is the first step of change!)

 

Next, observe yourself in action over the weekend and the next week or so, to see if your reactions fall squarely where you think they do. If you discover that your actions are not speaking as constructively as you would like, follow these steps and in no time you will be seeing positive results.

  1. Pay attention. Let the person who is talking to you “see” that you are listening. Look them in the eye, turn your body toward them. Smile, laugh, touch them.
  2. Say something positive: “Oh, Susan, that is wonderful.” “I’m so excited for you.” or whatever words work for you. Let your choice of words and the way you say them show your excitement.
  3. Ask questions: “When did you get the good news?” “How did you find out?” And, then follow-up with a sincere “Tell me all the details.” or “You must have been so excited, tell me all about it.” Any words that show your honest interest are the perfect words. You don’t need to overdo it, just ask and then listen – actively. Stay involved in the conversation so the person you care about, can share and savor the good news with you. Let the conversation be all about them.
  4. Suggest a way to celebrate. “Let’s go out to dinner to celebrate.” “Let’s open a bottle of wine.” Let’s go to the movies.” “Let’s . . . ” simply fill in whatever you know the person or child would really enjoy.

If you’re involved in a conversation and you realize that you aren’t responding as you would like, no problem. Simply stop and ask for a do-over. Say something like “You know what, I don’t think I’m being as positive as I can be about your good news, can we start over?” And then, do it. Your listener may be surprised, but will appreciate it.

Active/Constructive communication works so well, you may notice immediate results. Seligman shares a wonderful story in his book about an Army sergeant, who began actively and constructively responding to his young son and reported “about halfway through the conversation, my son interrupted me and said, “Dad, is this really you?” The sergeant’s new approach made his son uneasy at first, but within a few minutes the happiness in the boy’s voice shared just how much his Dad’s attention and approval meant to him. (Seligman has designed and is implementing a very successful resiliency program for all Army personal, which includes the concept of PERMA; I will share more about it in a future post.)

Give active/constructive communication a try, and let me know how it works. I want to hear all about it!

 

Last night and more

Last evening I met with 33 interesting, talented women to discuss happiness: what it is and how we get it.

Thank you to each and everyone, who attended.  It was great fun to be presenting in my home town area of Cleveland, Ohio.  Seeing family and friends made it extra special.

During the workshop, I asked each participant to write a total of 9 things they liked about themselves.

Usually we add one more at the end, leaving them with a top 10 list about themselves to take home, review and reflect upon to remind them just how wonderful they are.  (Sorry, ladies – I forgot #10, now you have homework.)

With a little bit of work, and shot of confidence, I hope each of them, and you, someday has a list of 100 things you like about yourself.  (It is worth challenging yourself to create a “100 word list of what I like about me.”  in 2010.)

Creating the list also helps folks feel more comfortable with the last activity of the night, which I will write about in a future post.  One person commented that the exercise was the first time she had ever done anything just about herself.

Throughout the workshop these great women also listed 9 people they knew.  The list was a starting point for another wonderful and proven way to bring more happiness into our lives, and the lives of someone special to us.

Martin E.P. Seligman, author, researcher, professor and leader in the positive psychology field, has each of his students in one of his classes each semester write a 300 word letter to someone they care about and whose help or friendship has deeply touched them.  Then they must – here is the surprisingly hard part, read it in person (technology is wonderful, but this really is a face-to-face kind-of thing) to the person they have written about.

Sounds simple, letting someone you appreciate know you care about them – and it is in theory, but actually putting the words on paper and sharing it with that special person can be a bit intimidating, but trust me and the thousands of other folks, who have done it:  It is worth the effort for you and the person you are thanking.

Please do not skimp on the words, 300 gives you enough time to round out your thoughts.  The in-person part gives you a chance to look into their eyes and tell them how much you care.  It is a small act of bravery, and one each of you will benefit from.

Please do try this at home. The weekend is a great time to begin gathering and writing down your thoughts.

Oh, and it is free.

And, to quote a well-known commercial – the feeling is priceless.  For you and for them.

Seligman calls it a “Gratitude Visit.”

That’s what I feel like each time I present a workshop.

With gratitude,

Patrice

PS to workshop participants:  You gave Marci a perfect score and even some bonus points for her kindness on the evaluations!  Thanks again, Marci for hosting the workshop, and for being you.

And, thanks to all of you for your great comments about the workshop, glad you enjoyed it

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