Continuing on in our series of blog posts on the different continuums of communication, another way to assess your relationship is along the lines of how engaged each of you are with one another. Bader and Pearson have developed a continuum of engagement, ranging from less to more engaged. As I contemplate the points along their continuum, I think of Gottman’s conceptualization of “love maps” and “turning towards” each other when a bid for attention is made. In Gottman’s research, he found that the most satisfying relationships are built on a foundation of friendship, admiration and appreciation. Partners made a point of being interested in each others inner and outer worlds. When one person made a bid for attention, the other turned towards that bid rather than ignoring or turning away from it. So, how engaged are you with one another? Can you locate where you fall on the below continuum?
- I’d rather not listen.
- I find listening to my partner boring.
- I’m afraid that I will hear something I have done wrong, even if I am not being blamed, so I protect myself.
- I listen and recap what my partner says to me.
- I remind myself that I will feel valuable if I can ask good questions and be interested.
- I initiate caring questions about my partner’s day and how he/she feels.
- I am curious and ask many questions designed to deepen my understanding of my partner.
- I remain fairly calm; I remind myself not to take things personally; I continue to think productively and ask questions from a place of genuine curiosity.
- I want to feel empathy, but I don’t.
- I start to feel some empathy but fear expressing it.
- I can hold onto my values, beliefs and feelings at the same time as I express empathy and show nurturing concern for my partner.
- I feel gratitude. I appreciate that my partner turns to me for support and is open with me.
- I express gratitude knowing I am becoming a better person with my partner.
In our next blog post we will wrap up this series on continuums of communication by looking at a few of the pitfalls that get in the way of more evolved communication. Until then, peace.