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SEEK FIRST TO UNDERSTAND

This article will help you in any relationship you may be in. I've been aware throughout my week how "me" focused folks have been. 

Keep in mind that these are great individuals who simply fall prey to their own hurts, needs and ego, just like I do.

When this occurs there is a breach in the relationship. This happens at work, with your spouse, extended family, neighbor, friend or child. 

The word "First" in the title implies that you seek to understand in the moment. Hopefully I can do a better job of that with a clear desire as I enter into tough conversations. 

The word "First" can also represent the question, "Who will be the first to step forward and seek understanding?" Pride can be a powerful deterrent, leaving each person standing their own ground. We say or think things like, "I'm not coming a step closer until he/she..." We put conditions on our own willingness to seek the truth the other feels has not been heard. 

When we hold "our ground" we also make a conscious choice to be isolated from relationship. This is painful when the relationship is a close one. Every tough encounter in relationship gives the each person the choice to "turn toward" or "turn away." Which choice will you make?

Of course, there are appropriate times to stand your ground. I can think of certain parenting issues that call us to stand firm. I also quickly come up with several scenarios in adult relationships when boundaries are necessary. I say this in order to be fair, but my cautionary request is that you not immediately default to righteousness. 

Strategies to bring about increased understanding and closeness in relationships:

  1. What's essential that I understand about him/her?

  2. What would it take to choose to sit my needs aside and attend to him/her right now?

  3. If a caring third party witnessed the challenging situation what would be their specific wish(es) be for my relationship?  You could actually visualize being this third party and watch the interaction in your mind.

  4. What's at risk for me if I were to choose to take care of his/her needs in the present moment?

  5. What is the best thing that could happen if I focused on his/her needs right now?

  6. In what ways in the past have I been able to "let go" of potent emotions?

  7. What is one single item from the conversation that I can agree with that the other brought up?

  8. What are the feelings we both are experiencing directly underneath frustration and anger?

  9. If you had to dig deep and guess what one, vital core value the other is coming from, what would it be? What difference does having this understanding make in how you are thinking and feeling about this interaction?

  10. Displace your negative emotions in a written letter, picture drawing or by hitting a pillow. Then, go to the other person involved in the turmoil emotionally clean and ready to begin in a more positive direction.



Seek first and be the first to step forward for understanding in your relationships. It will transform you and many of the relationships around you.









Dave Turo-Shields (email)
Veteran Psychotherapist, Trainer & Life Coach

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"Seek first to understand."

  ~ Stephen Covey (among others)

 

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If there's a relationship that's particularly painful for you right now, give me a call.  I will give you a complimentary coaching session, which may be the beginning to healing and a more optimal relationship.  

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