Communicate

© Dmitry Ersler. Image from BigStockPhotos.com

I love babies!  Have you ever had the opportunity to calm a cranky baby?  Recently I found myself at a family gathering holding a special little three-month-old. He would not be calmed by anyone.  They tried patting, bouncing, feeding, you name it.  No one knew what he needed, including me.  This little boy’s mother had other children and matters to take care of, so I took over the duty of calming the baby.  

I realized I needed to know what he needed.  At first I talked to others about what it could be and made soothing movements while talking to others.  Nothing changed and no one knew what he needed.  At this point I looked closely at him and tried to feel him.  The thought came to me that he needed calm.  He was over-stimulated by the large crowd.  How could he become calm in the midst of the problem he was having?  It wasn’t like he could leave back to his home.  They came from another state.  

I needed to give him calmness and security in the environment we had around us.  I made a plan.  I was going to deliberately be calm and share my calmness with him.  But, to give him this calmness I had to make a connection first.  This was not my baby.  I couldn’t nurse him to make a connection like his mother would do.  I walked into the deserted entryway of the home while holding the baby.  

With him in my arms I concentrated on feeling his warmth and his heartbeat.  Then I thought of sending my calm breathing and heartbeat to him.  I gently swayed and bounced as I looked into his face and focused on thinking nothing but calm.  In a matter of a minute the baby stopped crying, started breathing evenly, and looked into my face.  We had established a calm connection.  He knew I wanted him to be happy and calm and that I had his interests in mind, not mine.  

I am probably not the first person to figure this out with babies, but it is a profound relationship lesson in my mind.  

Everyone needs to feel safe and understood in a relationship.  We need people to actively focus on us and tune the things going on around us out instead of tuning us out.  I have noticed most people who are frustrated with a child’s behaviors are usually not as connected as they should be.  Without that vital connection, a change in behavior isn’t likely to happen.

19-Year-Olds Aren’t Much Different from Babies

No matter the age, everyone needs to be understood.  Recently, I had a nineteen-year-old come to stay at my home with his guardians.  This boy had many issues that can’t be discussed here, so we will just sum it up as his life had no direction, he lacked good communication, and he needed social, emotional, physical and mental help.  

This boy’s guardians were at their wits’ end.  They didn’t know how to help him, and confided in me about the struggles they were having.  I sympathized but was reluctant to give too much advice because I didn’t know the boy very well.  

The next day it just so happened that everyone at my home was gone somewhere except for me and my nineteen-year-old visitor.  I was working on an article and he was reading in another room.  While writing I kept getting a feeling that I should go talk to him and show him I understood, as well as help him better understand what his guardians were thinking about him and their relationship.  

I didn’t really know what I was going to say when I started talking.  I just knew that I needed to make a connection and inspire him to want to make a connection with his family.  I interrupted him by telling him I felt like we should talk, but I didn’t really know why.  I told him I felt that he wasn’t happy and that he felt disconnected from his family.  He confirmed these things, and then we began to discuss what he could do about the problem.  I mostly asked questions to get him talking and to show him I was invested in his happiness and success.  Then I offered a small bit of advice.  

I told my brave nineteen-year-old visitor that he needed to share his thoughts with his family and tell them more about his desires for life so that they could really understand him.  He agreed, but said he didn’t know how to do it and would probably get emotional.  

In my mind I assessed what I new about him now that we had conversed for a while.  More specifically I assessed what I felt from him.  I felt that he was misunderstood, that he was not completely honest in his relationships, that he felt a bit lost in life, that he didn’t know if he could trust people, and that he needed a true friend to advocate for him.  

This boy’s family is amazing!  They really are one of the most ideal families you could find.  But this boy’s problem wasn’t necessarily because of the family.  It was because he had chosen to disconnect from family and didn’t know how to change that connection.  He didn’t understand the love his family had for him and didn’t see their concern either.  He only saw a barrier, and that was what the rest of the family saw too.  

I told this boy that if he consented to talk to his family I would mediate the conversation and advocate for him.  With my promise to help him be understood, he agreed.  

During the meeting the boy spoke openly for a while but then began to shut down when he didn’t feel like he was being understood.  I stopped everyone and said, “I sense that you feel frustrated right now.   What are you worried about?”  We then discussed how the group’s communications were affecting him and how they could be more effective in their communicating.  

The meeting was a great success.  By the end, the whole group understood each other and had increased love.  They even set goals for how to improve communication and address some of the problems the boy was dealing with.  The family was reunited because they took the time to really understand each other.  

Seeking to understand is not as easy as it sounds.  It takes a lot of practice and a really humble person.  I admire this family for going through the process effectively and choosing the relationship over the issues and judgments.  

What Stops Understanding?

A person can’t understand if he is distracted, not empathetically listening, thinking judgmental thoughts, or thinking about what he wants to say or the change he wants to try to have the other person make.  All of these things are selfish destroyers of honest, heartfelt understanding.


  No change will be made if a person doesn’t feel understood anyway, so it is pointless to drill principles and values, or to lecture to an out-of-control teen or child.

 

Although this makes a lot of sense to anyone who has ever felt misunderstood, it doesn’t solve a problem many parents have.  How do you get children to the point where they are calm enough to even allow a connection to happen?  This question will have to be addressed another day due to the volume of explaining and the principles associated with it that would need to be presented.  However, I will say that just like the experience with the baby above you have to exude calmness or no one else will be inspired to be calm.  You have to invest your heart into your teen or your child whenever you correct them, praise them, or prepare them for good decision-making.  

We are teachers, and as you know the best teachers are the ones who see potential and make an investment in that person’s potential.  If a parent knows how to calm herself and communicate effectively, with purpose and understanding she can change the hearts of the people in her care.  

Rules for Understanding

Seeking to understand requires intuition, and interpretation of the feelings coming from another person.  This experience is really quite spiritual in nature because you are really focusing on seeing inside another soul.  

These are the rules I follow when I am having a conversation with a teen in an effort to understand him.

1.    Pray for empathy and understanding.
2.    Approach deliberately. (Manipulative approaches are usually detected as such.)
3.    Ask questions.
4.    Talk Less.  Really listen.  (Most people listen autobiographically; this causes problems instead of solves problems.)  Rephrase what is said so that they know you are listening.    
5.    Pay attention to emotional or spiritual changes and say you feel them.
6.    Diagnose before you prescribe; learn as much as you can about the other person before you give any advice.  
7.    Then seek to be understood.  You need a good relationship, a good feeling, and a good logical argument to be really understood.  
8.    Sum up the conversation and make commitments or goals.   

Whether you are having problems with a baby, a teenager, or a friend, you need to focus on connecting and understanding before you focus on changing another person.  A person changes in this order:  First he must know something, then he must understand that thing, next he must believe in what he understands, and finally he chooses to make a change.  These steps apply to both parties in a relationship.  No matter which side you are on, you most likely need to change your attitude and judgments toward the other person.  If you don’t you will not be humble enough to really understand, and then you will never fix the problems in your relationship and be able to move on to solving the problems.  

D & C 8: 2-3 — “Yea, behold, I will tell you in your mind and in your heart, by the Holy Ghost, which shall come upon you and which shall dwell in your heart.  Now, behold, this is the spirit of revelation…”   This is the spirit of understanding, and the spirit which you must rely upon to really know another person.   Be humble, be calm, and seek to understand.

Nicholeen answers parenting questions and gives advice on <a target="_self" href="Cover Story Parenting Talking to Connect with Others By Nicholeen Peck I love babies! Have you ever had the opportunity to calm a cranky baby? Recently I found myself at a family gathering holding a special little three-month-old. He would not be calmed by anyone. They tried patting, bouncing, feeding, you name it. No one knew what he needed, including me. This little boy's mother had other children and matters to take care of, so I took over the duty of calming the baby. I realized I needed to know what he needed. At first I talked to others about what it could be and made soothing movements while talking to others. Nothing changed and no one knew what he needed. At this point I looked closely at him and tried to feel him. The thought came to me that he needed calm. He was over-stimulated by the large crowd. How could he become calm in the midst of the problem he was having? It wasn't like he could leave back to his home. They came from another state. I needed to give him calmness and security in the environment we had around us. I made a plan. I was going to deliberately be calm and share my calmness with him. But, to give him this calmness I had to make a connection first. This was not my baby. I couldn't nurse him to make a connection like his mother would do. I walked into the deserted entryway of the home while holding the baby. With him in my arms I concentrated on feeling his warmth and his heartbeat. Then I thought of sending my calm breathing and heartbeat to him. I gently swayed and bounced as I looked into his face and focused on thinking nothing but calm. In a matter of a minute the baby stopped crying, started breathing evenly, and looked into my face. We had established a calm connection. He knew I wanted him to be happy and calm and that I had his interests in mind, not mine. I am probably not the first person to figure this out with babies, but it is a profound relationship lesson in my mind. Everyone needs to feel safe and understood in a relationship. We need people to actively focus on us and tune the things going on around us out instead of tuning us out. I have noticed most people who are frustrated with a child's behaviors are usually not as connected as they should be. Without that vital connection, a change in behavior isn't likely to happen. 19-Year-Olds Aren't Much Different from Babies No matter the age, everyone needs to be understood. Recently, I had a nineteen-year-old come to stay at my home with his guardians. This boy had many issues that can't be discussed here, so we will just sum it up as his life had no direction, he lacked good communication, and he needed social, emotional, physical and mental help. This boy's guardians were at their wits’ end. They didn't know how to help him, and confided in me about the struggles they were having. I sympathized but was reluctant to give too much advice because I didn't know the boy very well. The next day it just so happened that everyone at my home was gone somewhere except for me and my nineteen-year-old visitor. I was working on an article and he was reading in another room. While writing I kept getting a feeling that I should go talk to him and show him I understood, as well as help him better understand what his guardians were thinking about him and their relationship.


I didn’t really know what I was going to say when I started talking.<hr class=’system-pagebreak’ ></a><hr class=’system-pagebreak’ ></a> I just knew that I needed to make a connection and inspire him to want to make a connection with his family. I interrupted him by telling him I felt like we should talk, but I didn’t really know why. I told him I felt that he wasn’t happy and that he felt disconnected from his family. He confirmed these things, and then we began to discuss what he could do about the problem. I mostly asked questions to get him talking and to show him I was invested in his happiness and success. Then I offered a small bit of advice. I told my brave nineteen-year-old visitor that he needed to share his thoughts with his family and tell them more about his desires for life so that they could really understand him. He agreed, but said he didn’t know how to do it and would probably get emotional. In my mind I assessed what I new about him now that we had conversed for a while. More specifically I assessed what I felt from him. I felt that he was misunderstood, that he was not completely honest in his relationships, that he felt a bit lost in life, that he didn’t know if he could trust people, and that he needed a true friend to advocate for him. This boy’s family is amazing! They really are one of the most ideal families you could find. But this boy’s problem wasn’t necessarily because of the family. It was because he had chosen to disconnect from family and didn’t know how to change that connection. He didn’t understand the love his family had for him and didn’t see their concern either. He only saw a barrier, and that was what the rest of the family saw too. I told this boy that if he consented to talk to his family I would mediate the conversation and advocate for him. With my promise to help him be understood, he agreed. During the meeting the boy spoke openly for a while but then began to shut down when he didn’t feel like he was being understood. I stopped everyone and said, “I sense that you feel frustrated right now. What are you worried about?” We then discussed how the group’s communications were affecting him and how they could be more effective in their communicating. The meeting was a great success. By the end, the whole group understood each other and had increased love. They even set goals for how to improve communication and address some of the problems the boy was dealing with. The family was reunited because they took the time to really understand each other. Seeking to understand is not as easy as it sounds. It takes a lot of practice and a really humble person. I admire this family for going through the process effectively and choosing the relationship over the issues and judgments. What Stops Understanding? A person can’t understand if he is distracted, not empathetically listening, thinking judgmental thoughts, or thinking about what he wants to say or the change he wants to try to have the other person make. All of these things are selfish destroyers of honest, heartfelt understanding. No change will be made if a person doesn’t feel understood anyway, so it is pointless to drill principles and values, or to lecture to an out-of-control teen or child. Although this makes a lot of sense to anyone who has ever felt misunderstood, it doesn’t solve a problem many parents have. How do you get children to the point where they are calm enough to even allow a connection to happen? This question will have to be addressed another day due to the volume of explaining and the principles associated with it that would need to be presented. However, I will say that just like the experience with the baby above you have to exude calmness or no one else will be inspired to be calm. You have to invest your heart into your teen or your child whenever you correct them, praise them, or prepare them for good decision-making. We are teachers, and as you know the best teachers are the ones who see potential and make an investment in that person’s potential. If a parent knows how to calm herself and communicate effectively, with purpose and understanding she can change the hearts of the people in her care. Rules for Understanding Seeking to understand requires intuition, and interpretation of the feelings coming from another person. This experience is really quite spiritual in nature because you are really focusing on seeing inside another soul. These are the rules I follow when I am having a conversation with a teen in an effort to understand him. 1.Pray for empathy and understanding. 2.Approach deliberately. (Manipulative approaches are usually detected as such.) 3.Ask questions. 4.Talk Less. Really listen. (Most people listen autobiographically; this causes problems instead of solves problems.) Rephrase what is said so that they know you are listening. 5.Pay attention to emotional or spiritual changes and say you feel them. 6.Diagnose before you prescribe; learn as much as you can about the other person before you give any advice. 7.Then seek to be understood. You need a good relationship, a good feeling, and a good logical argument to be really understood. 8.Sum up the conversation and make commitments or goals. Whether you are having problems with a baby, a teenager, or a friend, you need to focus on connecting and understanding before you focus on changing another person. A person changes in this order: First he must know something, then he must understand that thing, next he must believe in what he understands, and finally he chooses to make a change. These steps apply to both parties in a relationship. No matter which side you are on, you most likely need to change your attitude and judgments toward the other person. If you don’t you will not be humble enough to really understand, and then you will never fix the problems in your relationship and be able to move on to solving the problems. D & C 8: 2-3 — “Yea, behold, I will tell you in your mind and in your heart, by the Holy Ghost, which shall come upon you and which shall dwell in your heart. Now, behold, this is the spirit of revelation…” This is the spirit of understanding, and the spirit which you must rely upon to really know another person. Be humble, be calm, and seek to understand. Nicholeen answers parenting questions and gives advice on her blog http:/teachingselfgovernment.com. Her book Parenting a House United is also available there.”>her blog 

Her book Parenting a House United is also available there.