If you are like most people, you have probably experienced moments when you have felt extremely frustrated while trying to effectively communicate within one of your intimate personal or professional relationships. This could be with your spouse, your partner, your ex, your children, your executive team member, your manager, your employee, your vendor or your customer. Or it could be with your friend.
Relationship miscommunications can certainly be disheartening and definitely distracting and/or time consuming. If this form of miscommunication has happened repeatedly or is happening more frequently than you want to endure, then the following words could shed some inner light on your outer dilemma.
Every individual you interact with will live their day-to-day lives according to what they perceive in that moment to be their most important set of values or priorities. Each perception, decision and action they will make or take will be based upon whatever they believe will give them the greatest advantage or the greatest benefits based on what they value most.
To expect another individual to live according to your highest values and not their own will be foolish, frustrating and certainly futile. No individual can consistently and persistently attempt to live outside their own set or hierarchy of values. If you project your highest values onto them, you will probably end up becoming angry and aggressive, feeling betrayed and bitter, critical and challenging and despaired and depressed. It is not that they are doing anything wrong. You are simply unrealistically expecting them to act in a manner that is improbable — that is, act according to your highest values and not their own.
Other individuals are not going to be as committed or dedicated to your values as you are. Although, when they are initially infatuated with you and put you on a pedestal, they may transiently attempt to be. But they are ultimately committed to their own fulfillment of what they value most.
You may be saying inwardly, “but wait a moment. They promised… They should… They are supposed to… “Such imperative ideals are exactly what they are: social idealisms that generally overlook the true nature of human behavior. Any time another individual appears to be temporarily committed to your fulfillment, it is because it is also helping them fulfill what is most important to them at that moment. If they perceive that doing what you feel is most important helps them fulfill what they feel is most important, the relationship and the communication seems to go smoothly.
But when you exaggerate your self-importance and feel superior to the individual you are attempting to communicate with, you will tend to project your highest values down onto them. In other words, if you believe that your highest values are more important than theirs, you will become ‘self-righteous’ and will begin to think that you have more to offer than they do. That is, you believe you are more intelligent, more successful, more wealthy, more experienced, more influential, more attractive, or more inspired. You will tend to talk down to them, carelessly, because you care less about their highest values than your own. You will think you are right, because you think your values are more important than theirs! And so you will expect them to live according to your highest values and not their own. However, they won’t do this! They will do what every human being does: make their decisions according to their own highest values.
The instant you project your unrealistic expectations onto them, you will probably begin to feel betrayed by how they are failing to meet those unrealistic expectations. Yet the other individual never actually betrayed you. You betrayed yourself by expecting them to live according to your highest values and not their own. These unrealistic expectations can result in anger and aggression, feelings of betrayal and bitterness, despair and depression, a desire to escape, frustration and futility… all of which make it challenging to effectively communicate and relate.
On the other hand, when you minimize your own self-importance and feel inferior to the individual you are attempting to communicate with, you will tend to project their highest values down into you. And you will wrongly begin to think that you have less to offer than they do. You will tend to talk up to them, carefully, and even walk on egg shells because you temporarily care more about their highest values than your own and you will think they are right! And you will expect yourself to attempt to live according to their highest values and not your own. However, you won’t be able to sustain this! You will eventually do what every human being does: make decisions according to your own highest values.
The instant you project their unrealistic expectations onto you, you will probably begin to feel you are betraying them by failing to meet their expectations. Yet you never actually betrayed them. You betrayed yourself by expecting to live according to their highest values and not your own. Again, placing these unrealistic expectations upon yourself can result in negative emotions, like those who project their unrealistic expectations on others experience.
When you neither exaggerate, nor minimize, your self-importance and feel neither superior nor inferior to the individual you are attempting to communicate with and reach a state of equanimity, you will tend to communicate effectively and ‘heartfully’ with reflective awareness and expression. If you are married, this approach is the one that keeps the wedding ring on the finger. It creates an equitable, sustainable fair exchange and a more lasting relationship dynamic where you both feel appreciated and loved.
Every individual you interact with just wants to be loved and appreciated for who they are. And who they are, their identity, revolves around their highest values, which are the key to their most meaningful, fulfilling and purposeful expression or state of being. The same holds true for you.
By determining what another individual’s top three highest values are, and by determining what your own top three highest values are, you will then have the means to communicate effectively between each other. By linking your top three values with theirs, you will enhance the communication experience and create a more enduring dialogue. Ask yourself the following two questions and answer them repeatedly 25 times with different and meaningful answers for each of your top three values and theirs.
“How, specifically, is what is most important to them — their top three highest values or priorities — helping you fulfill what is most important to you — your top three highest values or priorities?”
“How, specifically, is what is most important to you — your top three highest values or priorities — helping them fulfill what is most important to them — their top three highest values or priorities?”
If you cannot see how what they are dedicated to is helping you fulfill what you are dedicated to, you will want to change or fix them. If they cannot see how what you are dedicated to is helping them fulfill what they are dedicated to, they will want to change or fix you. No one wants to be changed or fixed; they only want to be loved and appreciated.
The greater the number of connections or links you can make between your highest values and theirs, the greater your communication with them will be. I encourage you to make well over a hundred.
When you value yourself and others equally, you create a respectful equity position with your relationships and reduce the probability of having frustrating miscommunications. And when you help other individuals fulfill what they would love most, they will help you fulfill what you would love most.
Dr. John Demartini is a human behavioral specialist, educator, internationally-published best-selling author, consultant and founder of the Demartini Institute. DrDemartini.com