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There is a simple test that makes it easy to gauge how healthy a particular relationship is at any given time.
That test is to ask yourself whether the relationship is being compressed or expanded. Knowing how to answer this simple question will empower you to control how you want the relationship to proceed.
This idea comes from a form of intuitive bodywork called Body Harmony. The key to intuitive bodywork is allowing room for compressed tissue in the body to expand back to their natural state of harmony.An easy way to describe the difference would be to observe at a small, sleeping child and watch the ease with which they breathe. Their chests expand in every direction freely and effortlessly.
Then watch an older person breathe andthen compare what you observe. Which one looks more in harmony?
What if the "tissue" in a relationship works the same way? If this is true, we hold the great, maybe even ultimate, power to continually make our own choices whether to compress or expand each and every relationship we are involved in.
Here, for example, are some overt choices you have in expanding or compressing relationships:
Yes or no: This is not to advocate saying "yes" all the time; just to make you aware of how much of the relationship process stops when that one word is uttered. It has been said that "No" does not exist in nature. Could it nurture the relationship to search for a compromise together?
Argue or debate: Intellectually, you may have the upper hand. Let’s even say that you are 100% right, but what is your heart saying as you pile up proof after prooof and win more and more points? Not only that, but how willing and cooperative are the argument's losers going to be when it is time to agree on future actions?
Inspire or obligate: Have you ever heard the expression “obligation breeds resentment”? Have you ever wondered why? How will the outcome be stronger if the others you involve are inspired rather than obligated to help?
Prejudge or open mind: Are you conscious of the reality of the people involved here and now, or are you basing your future relationship on some distant memory? How inspiring is it for you to be with a memory rather than the person in front of you? What if the more you are up in your head thinking, the less presence of mind you have to be able to relate here and now?!
Communicate or not How are you expanding or compressing a relationship when you refuse to talk? What sometimes happens when countries refuse to talk? Hint: the answer involves weapons.
Following are covert choices you have in expanding or compressing a relationship These are just a taste of how you can influence the expansion or compression of a relationship in subtle or even unconscious ways. What if the result of these subtleties can be just as powerful?
Relax or tense up: Here’s a test. Make a tense fist with one hand and drop some money on it from the other. How easy is it to catch the money? Now, relax and open your fist up and do the experiment over. Notice a difference? What if this same principle applies with compliments and conversation in general?
Choosing to breathe: Have you ever noticed that when situations become uncomfortable the breathing of those involved usually slows down considerably? Observe this the next time you are in a “tense” situation.
Then if you would rather make the situation and its participants more relaxed,just start breathing so everyone notices and see what happens. Another hint: Laughing just may be the best way to take in oxygen!
Choosing to look at whom you are talking to All cultural issues aside, do you get more or less information from the person you are talking to (and their reaction) if you look at them when you deliver the message? This information will help in recognizing whether you are compressing or expanding the conversation/relationship.
State, or inquire Which method opens up the conversation and invites its participants to think for themselves? Which method invites a debate?
Listen or wait to talk: This point is almost too comical to mention, but start noticing how often someone is actually listening for whom you are and what you have to say. Then compare it to how often they are up in their minds formulating their response for the next time you take a breath.
Then ask yourself whether you really really feel you were heard? Maybe there really is a cost and a profit to "paying" attention
There are loads of other ways to compress and expand relationships! Yet, just observing and working with those that are listed above should make you painfully conscious of how well we have been trained to compress relationships.
This revelation will hopefully lead you to the possibility that exists for a better world if we start training ourselves to expand them instead.
Choosing to get conscious to this process is a step towards a lighter and brighter future. Once you are conscious of what it looks and feels like to compress a relationship, the faster you will probably want to start training in how to expand it instead. The more you practice, the more you will begin to intuitively feel the compression and expansion taking place.
BE WARNED: just as in many other "Aha" experiences, they usually start by feeling like “Oh Geez” experiences, or worse! Don’t be disheartened, this too is known as progress. Just continue to practice and learn as the better you become at expanding relationships, the more attractive you usually become.
For those of us who have children. If you want an intensive, short course in compression and expansion, train yourself to notice when you compress or expand your relationship with your own flesh and blood. If you want instant uninhibited feedback, just watch their reactions. But the effects often have influence more than skin deep.
According to Harvey and Marilyn Diamond, authors of the best selling Fit for Life when you FORCE your children to eat even good food, the result is it turns acidic and becomes harder to digest (even poisonous). There is no better coach on this planet than your own son or daughter when it comes to achieving expertise on the subject of compressing and expanding relationships And by the way, it works on spouses too!
Whether it is in business or in your conversations with those near and dear to you, learning how to expand and guide the energy of a conversation rather than suppressing it is a fundamental key to creating long lasting and prosperous relationships and friendships.
Kurt Larsson is an organisational trouble-shooter and coach, dealing decisively with the human issues of stress, ethics and relationships in the workplace. View his enlightening website at http://www.expandingu.biz
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