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Deepen Your Connections

When juggling a variety of roles as a spouse, parent, friend, and/or working professional, it’s easy to fall into a pattern of telling, informing or instructing versus truly communicating. If you want to maximize the benefits of your relationships in regards to your weight and wellness goals, focus on communication -- being heard and actively listening.

The real intent of communication is to make a connection. That means expressing yourself in a way that you get heard and understood and actively listening so that the other person is also heard and understood.

To Be Heard + To Hear = To Connect

Be Heard and Understood

Often times, it’s not what you say, it’s how you say it that hurts. Unintentional meaning creates miscommunication. Determine which words match your current style:

  • “You make me so angry I could scream” versus “I am so angry I could scream.”
    “You” statements generate defensiveness. They also take away your responsibility for your own feelings.
    “I” statements generate concern. They reinforce that you own your feelings.

  • “You should get your weight under control” versus “ I am worried about how your weight is affecting your health.”
  • “You should/need” statements generate resentment. They put you in an authoritarian position versus a partnership.
    “I am (whatever feeling)” statements generate concern. They show you genuinely care for the other person’s welfare.

  • “I think you are rude when you tease me about my weight” versus “I feel hurt by what you said about my weight.”
  • Thoughts are debateable. A common response to them might be, “No, I’m not rude. I was just kidding.”
    Feelings aren’t arguable. A common response to them might be, “I’m so sorry. I never meant for you to feel that way.”

Practice choosing your words carefully to better match your intent and make a connection.

Actively Listen

When you really listen to others you are communicating that you respect them. This respect will allow you to develop stronger relationships. Improve your listening by:

  • Making and maintaining eye contact.
  • Opening your posture.
  • Maintaining focus -- stop internal self-talk and thinking about how you’ll respond.
  • Reflecting back what you hear -- restate or paraphrase what you heard in your own words.

Ongoing support is important for making lifelong changes. Creating healthy, deepening relationships can help maximize your success.