The way you talk, listen, look, hug, make love, move and react all speak volumes about the state of your emotions and what your body really wants to say. What silent signals are you sending?
Often it’s the things you don’t say that speak louder than what you do say. Most communication that we send and receive is wordlessly spoken through our facial expressions, body positioning, pace, intensity and tone of voice. Sometimes, your body language is quite obvious and conscious, such as when you scowl and/or give the finger to the driver who just cut you off and almost caused an accident.
But then there are those times when you think you’re giving your partner the glowing reassurance he needs and what you get back is “so you don’t really like it.” Huh? Or when you sincerely say “I want us to be closer” and he says “don’t look at me like that!” Like what? What your body language is conveying makes the difference between being heard, known and received or discounted, ignored and disbelieved.
When you improve your own body language awareness, your ability to effectively communicate, hear and be heard and get what you want will multiply tenfold.
Use this 60 second body language check-in to tune in and make sure your verbal and nonverbal signals are in sync:
My body is…
- Stiff, clenched, crossed, tight-fisted
- Swaying, rocking, fidgeting
- Fatigued, sleepy, droopy
- Comfortable and alert. Shoulders and back are relaxed. Body is open, uncrossed, slightly leaning forward.
My facial expression is…
- Angry and annoyed
- Tense and nervous
- Bored and disinterested
- Emotionally present, calm, friendly and interested
My eye contact is…
- Intense and aggressive
- Anxious and shifting
- Unfocused, unresponsive, looking away
- Focused and calm
My breathing is…
- Shallow and rapid
- Stressed and nervous
- Labored and difficult
- Deep, slow, full and relaxed
My tone is…
- Tight, forced or restricted
- Whining, sulking or shrill
- Angry, demanding or frustrated
- Loving, positive, confident and friendly
My reaction is…
- Too fast: I’m defensive and argumentative.
- Too slow: My attention is drifting in and out.
- Deflective: I’m turning away, blaming, not listening.
- Responsive and inquisitive: I’m emotionally available, listening, interested, wanting to understand.
Obviously, number four is the ideal state you want to be in.
Here’s a little secret: The messages your body sends are usually aligned with your emotions. You can begin to make your body and words more congruent by first asking yourself “what is my emotional state right now?” The minute you feel your shoulders tense, jaw tighten or fists clench, it’s time to do an emotional check-in.
And don’t forget to watch your breathing! Breathing deep and comfortably naturally influences your mood and thoughts, how your brain and body function and how sensitive your nerves are. Taking a few deep breaths can give you the pause you need to emotionally check in and purposely coordinate your body language with what your mouth (and heart) wants to say.
Knowing and dealing with your underlying emotions before speaking and reacting will help you avert miscommunication. When you match your body language with your words, you deliver a cohesive, congruent message that says what you mean and means what you say.
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POWER STRUGGLES = NO surrender. NO LOVE. I’d rather be RIGHT!
“Try to see it my way,
Do I have to keep on talking till I can’t go on?
While you see it your way,
Run the risk of knowing that our love may soon be gone”.
~John Lennon, Paul McCartney “We Can Work It Out”
What is a Power Struggle?
A power struggle occurs when being right is more important than being connected and in love. Basically it’s when union and communion is subverted for righteous triumph.
A good rule of thumb is that if you and your partner both feel that yours is the only correct solution, then chances are, you are in a power struggle.
Usually Power Struggles have little to do with what you are actually talking about, and everything to do with how each feels about their place and position in the relationship. An argument could begin over something innocuous— where to eat, what movie to see, who was supposed to pick up what, when this or that was supposed to occur… but ends up being a referendum on the relationship as a whole.
If you or your partner become stuck in righteous, blaming, unbending, know it all, “my-way-or-the- highway,” ” I’m right, you’re wrong” thinking, and/or you stop listening, become defensive, arm up, and feel righteous about your position, it’s a pretty good indicator that you are in a power struggle.
A power struggle drains the blood and life force out of shared love and instead, creates separation and a lose/lose situation. Winning and being right becomes more important than being in love. And once the dust settles, we are left with the painful result of our behavioral choices….. ‘Where did my beloved go?’
Power struggles are poison to maintaining a healthy, happy, open relationship.
How do I avoid being in a power struggle with my partner?
The best way to avoid being in a power struggle is to realize that even if you win the battle, you lose the war. If one of you has a problem, it’s a WE problem, not a ME problem. If one partner is stuck and polarized in opposition, then there is a WE problem.
You can meet and match fear with fear, or you can hold the heart of the relationship in your arms and calm your partner. Treat your partner as your best friend. Listen, find that place of mutual agreement, because the truth is neither one of you is 100% right and neither one of you is 100% wrong.
The task at hand is finding a way to move away from the energy of competition (me vs. you) to cooperation (we are a team). Change your focus from looking for what’s wrong, to searching for what’s right- a place you agree with what your partner is saying. Start there.
“Seeing others as basically compassionate instead of hostile and selfish helps us relax, trust, live at ease. It makes us happier.” ~The 14th Dalai Lama
The Chatting or Cheating Power Struggle ANTIDOTE
“A power struggle collapses when you withdraw your energy from it. Power struggles become uninteresting to you when you change your intention from winning to learning about yourself.”
Gary Zukav & Linda Francis
- Why do I NEED to be right?
- Would I rather be RIGHT OR HAPPY?
- Is STICKING to my position that important?
- If this was my BEST FRIEND how would I behave?
- Is there room to LIGHTEN UP and relax about this?
- What would it be like if I chose to BE THE GENEROUS ONE?
Remember this mantra: What divides US, weakens US. Whenever a problem or issue arises, stop and ask yourself… “How would love respond?”
…from Dr. Sheri’s Prescriptions for Partners-
Blueprint for Successful Conversations
The message sent IS the message being received!
“The single biggest problem in communication
is the illusion that it has taken place.”
~George Bernard Shaw
We spend far more time communicating with each other than we do having sex. Communication is the process of exchanging information with one another. Everything we do and say, as well as, what we don’t do nor say, transmits information. What and how we communicate is the way we know and are known by each other. Few experiences are more gratifying than expressing yourself, saying something that is deep and personal and having it heard, received, and understood by your partner. Learning the necessary skills for effective communication is the basic foundation of true intimacy and vital to a healthy relationship.
What is effective communication in a relationship?
It’s very simple. Your message sent is the message received.
What you say to your partner is actually heard by your partner.
Is the message you’re sending being received?
Take this Quick Communication Quiz to find out.
When I express myself, I know I am heard.
I feel comfortable sharing with my partner.
When issues arise, we face them as a team.
We both actively seek to understand each other.
We are open to each other’s thoughts and feelings.
-If you answered no to any of these questions, you and your partner can communicate more effectively.
Get Heard! Easy Communication Tips
“Behind the need to communicate is the need to share.
Behind the need to share is the need to be understood.”
A common question that I’m frequently asked: “How can I get my partner to listen to me?” My simple answer often is: it’s all in your delivery and your presentation. It’s not ONLY what you say, it’s also how you say it. HOW you express your needs, desires, and requests for change can mean the difference between finding resolution or starting a fight. Here are some quick tips for how to have your say and have what you say, heard.
Dr.Sheri’s 4 Tips for Peaceful, Cooperative, Skillful Conversing
“I”-Speak: Use I statements such as “I need, I feel, I want, I desire.” Avoid blame filled “You’s” such as “You need to… Your problem is… You’re just…” The key is to make your partner aware, not wrong. “This issue is important to me. I would like to talk to you about it. I promise not to yell or get upset.” Practice using “I” statements and you’ll notice an immediate improvement in your dialogue.
Tone: If you’re talking calmly and lovingly, you have a far better chance of keeping your partner’s attention on what you are saying. When someone starts talking really loudly or aggressively, the receiver instinctively goes on the defensive and puts protective walls up. You can’t expect anyone to listen fully when they feel they are being laid into.
When you hold an attitude of cooperation vs. competition, ‘we’re in this together’ ‘we’re a team’ your tone automatically becomes kinder, gentler, and calmer.
Ask for Feedback/Invite Discussion: One surefire way of knowing you are being heard is asking for feedback. What do you think of this? Do you understand where I’m coming from? Feedback also allows you to reaffirm (or resend) any important messages that may have been overlooked or missed.
Each Partner has a Turn saying their say and being heard, feeling openly received without interruption.
Here’s a simple exercise that will help you improve your ability to stay focused, say what you mean, and get what you feel and want expressed in a constructive and caring way. It eliminates the blame filled, character assassination that usually pushes the other away and gets us into trouble.
Remember to use I language.
State your positive intention (i.e. I feel like this issue is coming between us and getting in the way. I hope that by sharing this information with you that we can work together in resolving it. I want to feel closer to you again.
Describe the situation and the behavior that upsets you: Be as specific and objective as possible. “When you come home, walk right past me, and go to our room to without speaking, saying hello or giving me a kiss…” This specifically describes the behavior which is bothering you vs. “when you come home and ignore me” which would usually create an immediate defensive reaction.
Express your feelings and thoughts: (I feel…) (I think, believe, expect…)
Most feelings we experience are a combination of the following: anger, sadness, guilt, happiness, excitement, tenderness. It is important to own your feelings and acknowledge the fact that your partner did not make you feel a certain way.
I feel ___________________ because I think/believe/expect _______________
(e.g. I feel hurt because I think you don’t love me anymore).
Our thoughts about a situation are what creates and stimulates the feelings we are having. In other words, our feelings are a direct result of how we see and interpret the meaning of our partner’s behavior. (e.g. When our partner doesn’t greet us at the door when we come home, the reality might be he or she is busy, but our thoughts and expectations may say that their action is unloving, and then our feelings and responses are off and running!) When you can make the association between what you think and what you feel, everything begins to change for the better.
Specify your wants and what you’d like to change (I would like…) (Are you willing?)
Ask very specifically for an observable change. (e.g. When you come home I’d like it if, before going upstairs, you’d come and find me, give me a hug, and say hi. Are you willing to do that?)
Successful conversations do not necessarily mean getting your way. It means that you have expressed your thoughts, feelings, and/or concerns in a way that is heard and understood. It also means consciously listening and seeking to understand what is being said to you. This kind of communicating can take a little practice but you’ll find the results are well worth it!
Want to know more? Click here.
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The Difference Between Chatting and Cheating
5 Reasons Why Men Cheat
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