Improve communication in your relationships, and you’ll enjoy a happier and more fulfilling life. An old parable provides some excellent advice on how to do that.
In the parable of the Wind and the Sun, the Wind challenges the sun to a competition. A traveler is passing by wearing a cloak. The Wind claims by his power he will get the traveler to remove his cloak faster than the sun. The Sun agrees to the competition and the Wind proceeds to blow and blow at the traveler only to see the traveler pull his cloak tighter. The Sun proceeds to shine and shine and, because of the sun’s warmth, the traveler sheds his cloak.
When someone disagrees with you, are you more like the wind, getting stronger and stronger, blowing harder and harder, perhaps even raising your voice in an effort to get the other person to see your way? Or are you more like the sun, inviting the other to share their experience with you so you can understand them better?
As a couples’ counselor, I can assure the latter approach, doing your best to understand your partner, to invite them to share their experience without judging them or reacting to what they are saying can go a long way to your increased understanding and compassion for them. And surprisingly, when they feel heard and understood they are much more likely to reciprocate with an invitation for you to share also.
If you find yourself digging in your heels and getting ready to defend your position, remember the wind and the sun and consciously choose how you would rather be in the moment.
Theodore Roosevelt said, “No one cares how much you know, until they know how much you care.” Lead with care (warmth) like the sun and see what happens.