Communicating From the Heart

July 6th, 2009


Relationships can be a source of joy and pleasure, and at times, they can be a source of confusion and misunderstanding. One of the keys to developing a flexible and flourishing relationship is making a commitment to practice heart-centered communication with a willing partner. Here’s a tip on how it works.

The foundation for effective, heart-centered communication is the commitment to take full responsibility for your feelings and learning to communicate them in an honest and open way.

The key pieces here are:
a) you’re making the commitment despite any challenges or difficulties;

b) to be completely self-responsible for your feelings, even if they’re painful or unpopular;

c) learning and experimenting (which means you don’t have to do it perfectly) to talk about your feelings without blaming, attacking or withdrawing from your partner;

d) with a willingness to share the tender parts of yourself.

For example, let’s say your partner comes home late from work and it upsets you. Let’s say you were planning to work on a project together, something that was important to you.

Instead of giving her/him the silent treatment (or insert your own favorite relationship technique here), you might say, “I’m upset that you came home late. I was really hoping to work on this project together. When you come home late, I feel like you don’t care.”

If your partner has also made the commitment to communicate from the heart, s/he would listen and might say something like, “I’m sorry that coming home late upset you. I do care about you, but I was feeling stressed out at work and lost track of time. I didn’t know it would affect you.”

Once these feelings have been brought to light, you can come up with some solutions, such as setting aside dedicated time to work on the project and supporting your partner with what’s going on at work. But while one or both of us is caught up in difficult feelings, it’s unlikely you’ll get very far. Just talking clearly about your feelings and being understood by your partner feels good and is calming.

Some of this material comes from two of my teachers, Debra Chamberlin-Taylor and George Taylor, who hold workshops for couples with Courage to Love. I highly recommend their work. This tip is an updated excerpt from my article in the Winter ’08 edition of the San Francisco-based journal, Bridge. Let me know if you’d like to receive future tips for couples or join the Bridge mailing list.

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