We’ve all heard it said that good relationships are based on good communication. I believe this is true—on more levels than just the verbal. Good relationships are based on good verbal and energetic connection. Think of the last time that you were pretty sure that someone was judging you. They didn’t say they were judging you. Maybe their words were even supportive. Yet you still felt this sense that they were judging you.
Let’s say that you even decide that you are too powerful to stay stuck in a Story that might not even be true, so you decide to check it out and it turns out—yes, they do admit they were judging you. That “feeling” you got of being judged is what I’m talking about when I talk about energetic communication. Simply put: our partners know when our words contain hidden agendas, or when we’re not saying what we’re really feeling. We as humans devise all kinds of Stories as to what those feelings mean or are really about. The most powerful step to take is to check them out (“I might be running a Story about this, so I thought I’d ask if…”). Nonetheless, we pick up on other people’s energy. So my first question when we talk about relationships is this: How do YOU communicate?
Like it or not, most people can pick up on this energetic communication. Energetic communication is so important, because we pick up far more cues based on someone’s tone of voice or body language than we do their actual words. Hopefully you’re also seeing how often “miscommunication” happens because of the Stories we create about what someone says or does (for instance, if someone is distant, we make up a Story that they don’t like us when in fact they might just have a headache). The making up the story part is your work when you do it with others and others’ work if they make up Stories about you. Nonetheless, we’re talking about you, here. You might be thinking, “Okay, but what do I do? You’re telling me that my judgments of others are probably something people pick up on. But how do I stop those judgments?”
Well, first, step into some acceptance around the judgment. Just own that you have them. Own that you have an inner little kid that got triggered in this way or that to believe that it’s someone else’s fault, or responsibility, or why do they have to always, or it’s not fair, or you’re sick and tired of, or… Step for a moment into the freedom and permission to just say that you have those judgments. Also, it’s worth noting that judgments serve us in many ways. I would never want to encourage, for instance, a woman to get on a path that is so dedicated to “not having negative judgments” that she ignored feelings about whether or not the man she’s just gone on a date with is a safe person, second-guessing herself into thinking that she shouldn’t have a “negative judgment” of someone if her gut instinct is telling her that this person is not safe.
Judgments do have value. Just as with your inner critic—let’s try not to stamp things out. Let’s accept what is true for us (the judgments are true) and then just start noticing when they serve us, and when they don’t. We judge all of the time; it’s how we filter our world. That’s okay. Revisiting Integrity Integrity is: When your words and actions match, and are in alignment with your values, beliefs, commitments and life vision. I am going to trust that if you are in a loving partnered relationship, and that relationship supports your life vision, that judging that same partner in ways that cause disconnection would not serve you. Because it would not serve you, it would not be in integrity for you. I’m going to trust that respectful communication is something you desire in your life—communication that respects all parties. If you are in a friendship with someone and they keep doing things that bother you, it would be out of integrity to not speak up for yourself and share your 100% truth (respectfully, of course).
I’m going to trust that even if you don’t like people at your job, you do have a desire for connection with other people—for relationships that run smoothly, for instance. I’m going to trust that if anyone that you worked with right now, even the difficult people, broke down crying and really got vulnerable and shared with you the parts of themselves that have deep, harsh inner critics, you might view them differently. You wouldn’t put up with disrespect, but you’d see where it was coming from (and how the two of you are alike). So what’s in integrity for you? To hate someone at work for how they speak to you? Or to establish respectful communication and to step out of negative judgments?
Communication starts with you. Now we can even revise things a bit, and say that successful relationships are built on respectful verbal and energetic communication in which each person takes ownership. And even if the other person is not willing to own their part, you get the opportunity to create success in your relationship with yourself and your personal integrity.
Take out a sheet of paper and write make note of a relationship or two that you identify as a problem. Use a discerning eye to note any places where you have judgments of someone else that cause disconnection in the relationship. Another way to look at this might be to ask: “Am I attached to a particular outcome, here?” Are you attached to them being a certain way? Are you allowing them to have their process? As human beings, all of us get to have our process. We get to be as mistake-laden as we wish! (You do, too.) Take time to notice any places where you are out of integrity with you by holding judgments, resentments, blame or anything else that causes disconnection.
Kate Swoboda is a Life Coach, speaker and writer who helps clients to lead unconventional and revolutionary lives through practicing courage. She’s the author of The Courageous Living Guide, and creator of the Courageous Play and Create Stillness retreats–as well as The Coaching Blueprint, a resource just for Life Coaches. When she’s not writing, coaching, or leading retreats in Italy and San Francisco, she can be found sipping chai in libraries, buffing up on her Italian, training for her next road race, or getting all bendy-stretchy on the yoga mat. You can find Kate at www.yourcourageouslife.com