Children oftentimes learn how to make relationships by two main efforts. Trial and error is one and the second is through modeling.
I have noticed, for better and for worse, that children will often model their parents. Seems obvious right? They may never agree to doing so, but the child will oftentimes be alike, or rebel for a moment and nonetheless be conditioned from their environment.
What happens when children have poor role models or no role models to learn from?
They become poor relationship builders or they acquire some not-so-positive behaviors that may sabotage relationships before they begin.
What if we had a system that would build relationships? How would our (or your) world change if there was a system that, when followed, built positive and enriching relationships. Would this make a difference? Is this possible?
I believe it is.
My system includes four main parts and they are all teachable. Here are the steps and you can practice right now.
The first step is to listen. I have a favorite quote; "Listen with the eyes and hear with the heart." This means to simply silent your mind while another person is speaking. Allow our own emotions to flow through us without thinking about them. This will allow us to NOT judge another person's words and it will keep us from thinking of our own retort before the person is finished speaking. Listening is a skill that is learn-capable and teachable.
Who taught you how to listen?
The second step is to speak from your perspective only. This entails using "I" statements and not broad generalizations. For example, "I feel neglected" as opposed to "We feel neglected" in reference to either a classroom or group of employees. This is so powerful because we all have our own truths. We can only come from where "we" are and not from where others are – because we really do not know! Again, speaking from your perspective is learn-able and it is a skill that can be practiced.
The third step is to feel empathy. We can not get to this step without learning the first two. This is because we have to refer to our own heart first before we can feel what another person might feel. Empathy is simply feeling what another person feels. "Walking in another person's shoes." We do this when we listen completely and "feel" what the person is going through. We can then state our truth to explain to the other person that we "get it." We can relate because we feel them. This is incredibly powerful at making connections with other people.
The final step is to feel sympathy. I define sympathy as; feeling what another person feels with a desire to bring them into a better place. To me this is the intention of mentoring. We can all help people with challenges and it comes from sympathy. Once you feel someone and understand where they are at emotionally you you can probably help them get into a better place. You have to care about yourself first before you can care about other people.
This system is proven and backed by people's research. And you can use it right now. The hardest part I think most people encounter is listening silently enough to hear what the other person is saying. People speak louder with their bodies and actions rather than their mouth. In other words, there is more to the message than what people say. Get quiet, watch their eyes, shoulders, hands, and heart and you will begin to feel them.