The Mission of PAIRS is to teach those attitudes, emotional understandings and behaviors that nurture and sustain healthy relationships and to make this knowledge broadly available on behalf of a safer, saner, more loving world.
The most useful ways to communicate with loved ones are those that actually lead to greater closeness, understanding and acceptance. This means communication based on mutual respect, openness and trust.
Virginia Satir, PAIRS founding chairperson, described four styles of communicating under stress: placating, blaming, computing and distracting. Each of these communication styles can be more of a problem than the problem itself. In fact, responding to a loved one's concerns as a Placater, Blamer, Computer or Distracter can easily lead to distance and pain in love relationships. It's not unusual for the same styles of communication that many learn to succeed (or survive) in a work environment are not helpful, and are often harmful, to relationships with intimates.
You can learn more about each of these stres styles of communication, and discover which may be getting in the way of greater happiness and connection in your relationship with this PAIRS App.
Regardless of what styles you may be currently using unders stress or accustomed to at work, successful communication with loved ones requires learning to be a Leveler.
For conversations that matter, that is about both the manner in which you're communicating (speaking and listening) and the physical posture (position) you're in during your conversation.
For example, consider how often we have conversations with loved ones when we can't see each other's facial expressions, gestures or have any physical contact with each other. That can be because one person is driving, cooking, on the phone or computer, reading a newspaper or magazine, or even speaking from another room. In a world in which billions of messages are regularly exchanged through SMS, which can be valuable for conveying information, we may have little experience with meaningful exchanges that require being fully present with all of our senses.
For exchanges that are not just about relaying information, especially when fully understanding each other, showing concern and respect is vital, being in a leveling position is important.
Sometimes careers, education and other events have us separated by hundreds or even thousands of miles and we don't have that choice. In those situations, we can still do our best to be fully present to each other, separate ourselves from distractions, and use our good talking and listening skills.
When you can talk and listen to each other in person, it's important for meaningful conversations to begin by being exclusively focused on each other without distractions in a leveling position.
As shown in the images above, the leveling position means sitting in front of each other close enough so you can maintain eye contact, knee contact, and even hold hands when that fits for both of you. And in that position, it means speaking on your own behalf, with empathy and concern for the other person, and using your collective knowledge, experiences and resources to find solutions to the challenges you face.