Written by Stephanie. Danelle wasn’t the first person to say something about it–I honestly can’t remember who was. But “you and Ron need to get better at communicating” has been a fairly consistent observation (or criticism, ahem) over the past two decades, uttered by friends and family alike.
Fortunately, Danelle is both keenly observant and interested in psychology and the dynamics of relationships, so she’s been able to help us with specific ideas and discussions. I want to say that this really picked up while we were separated by those 1700ish miles. Whether it was the distance (easier to observe from the outside) or the medium of communication (easier to get your entire idea across when you’re recording a video), the conversations around communication got deep and real during that period. I learned a lot.
Such as: what’s the single most important thing in communicating?
Answer: listening. We usually think that the problem is that we’re not being clear in what we’re saying or we’re going about it the wrong way, and that’s true to an extent. But the bigger obstacle is not paying attention to how the message is being received.
And really, that’s what matters. What’s landing? What is the other person hearing?
To truly hear the other person, I’m working on not interrupting and on not focusing on what I’m going to say back. Even if we have a bit of an awkward pause while I figure out my response, I want to respect what they have to say.
I also try to listen for what’s not being said and then voice it if I can. Asking open-ended questions is a good technique for this. Does that make sense? (See what I did there?)
More than anything, I want Danelle to know how much we value her input in our lives and in raising the kids. That’s somehow hard–there aren’t many manuals for a complex blended family with emphasis on the complex. Sometimes, I need to remember to extend the invitation. And other times, I need to make sure I am ready to actually listen.