“When people live in acute stress, either the cracks in their relationship will be amplified or the light that shines through the cracks will be amplified. You get an amplification of the best and of the worst.” - Esther Perel
With social distancing in place, many of us are spending more time with fewer people — placing more pressure on our closest relationships. Everything from mealtime to me time — issues surrounding our personal preferences and space can quickly magnify during quarantine. If you have ever felt this to be true, it’s likely that others around you have as well.
In her podcast “Where Should We Begin”, therapist, author, and relationship counselor Esther Perel helps real couples work through their most pressing challenges. The language and approach Esther uses to navigate the tension-inducing issues being brought to her is both incredibly caring and effective — a difficult balance to strike.
In a recent episode, one of Esther's guests was attempting to convince their spouse to see things their way. After going into detail on the advantages of their perspective, they were unwilling to acknowledge any of the disadvantages. After listening, Esther took a step back and offered a powerful reminder:
"What happens when we want to convince someone to come to our side is that we only want to give them the mirror of all the great things that come with our choice, our decision, what we stand for. If we are able to speak about the positive and negative aspects of our choice, then it lets the other person off the hook of having to only speak about the dangers and the risks. Both need to be able to carry both sides."
Esther's point of being able to carry both sides of an argument is simple, and yet is so often overlooked. It's a positioning that enables productive conversations to happen not only between life partners, but also politicians, work colleagues, friends, and family members."
Reflecting on this episode, I realized that I had been in a similar situation recently. I had been trying to convince Dave of a new community platform we should use for our Holstee Membership. I was focusing so heavily on its benefits, that I didn’t make space for the disadvantages, so naturally Dave focused his energy on balancing my perspective by only sharing the disadvantages that he saw.
By acknowledging the disadvantages of your point of view from the start, you not only see things more clearly yourself, you also enable a dialogue — a productive discussion — to happen rather than a disagreement that leaves everyone feeling unheard and unhappy. You pave a way towards a shared goal or a compromise that is reached on common ground.
P.S. In case you are wondering, Dave and I agreed on a new platform and we are in the process of migrating from our existing private Facebook group for members to a private forum hosted on our site. We believe that this new platform will help foster connections and discussion among Holstee members. We will officially be rolling this out in the coming weeks (along with some other very exciting updates!) but if you are a member and interested you can already start poking around the new member forum today!
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