Have you stopped and listened to yourself lately?
Have you taken the time to really listen to how you sound to others?
Most importantly, how do you sound when you are speaking to the people who are close to you, the ones whom you love—your spouse, your significant other, children, family, and friends?
One of the things that I have noticed over and over again in people’s relationships is that the language we use with the people we are closest to is often laced with tones and words that we would never dream of using with a stranger. As a matter of fact, many people speak kinder to strangers than they do to the people they love!
Why is this?
There are a few different reasons why we may do this. One is that we are using similar language to what we heard used in relationships as we grew up. Another reason and probably the primary reason is that we become complacent in the way we interact with the ones whom we love, the ones whom we are most comfortable with.
Think back to when you first started your relationship with your significant other. What kind of language did you use? Chances are that you spoke the language of love, you were aware of the words you chose to use, and you were aware of your tone. You probably went to lengths to ensure that you kept your tone and your words upbeat.
How did you act when the other person was talking? I am willing to bet that you listened with your full attention, you showed the other person how much you cared by the way you listened, and you made eye contact. This is the language of love; this is the language of caring.
One of the key strengths to any relationship is how we communicate with each other. This is why it is critical to use a language of love and caring in all of our relationships.
The great news is that if we have become complacent in the way we communicate with others, we can change this.
We simply have to take ourselves back to the time when the relationship was new and use the same type of language as we did then. Ways we can do that are:
1. Watch the tone of your voice. Use a loving, compassionate, caring tone, and keep it positive and upbeat.
2. Avoid a snappy, harsh, or indifferent tone. There are no excuses for snapping at people or being harsh, no saying, “I am tired or sick and therefore I am cranky and the world just has to understand.” This is not acceptable. You choose how you respond to people, and your state of being does not give you the right to be nasty.
3. Use caring words.
4. Use terms of endearment. Honey, sweetie, lover, and dear all go a long way.
5. Make eye contact. Hold that eye contact when you are speaking or listening.
6. Show up fully. When listening, really listen, mute the TV, put down the paper, push yourself away from the computer. Show the other person that you are fully engaged and that you care.
7. Practice active listening. Paraphrase back what the other person said. For example, “So what you’re saying is that your boss was really…”
8. Open up conversation. Ask about the other person’s day, ask about what is planned for the day, make mental notes, and ask how that important meeting went.
9. Find things to talk about that are of mutual interest. (Just like when you first met, remember?) You don’t have to run out of things to talk about. There is always something happening. Talk about something you saw on the news, something funny you saw or read. The list is endless; you simply have to make the effort.
10. In those silent moments, smile at each other as you pass. Make eye contact, reach out and touch each other, cuddle, touch the other person lightly as you pass by them.
Remember the language of love is not just words. It is tone, it is gestures, it is little touches, it is leaving a little note or giving a card out of the blue for no reason other than to say “I love you.”
Do these things, and you will be amazed at how wonderful you both will feel. Do this without being concerned about reciprocation from the other person. Believe me, in most relationships, the other person will catch on to the language of love that you are expressing and begin to speak the language of love as well.
When you find yourself speaking to each other with unloving tones and words, stop and ask out loud, Does this sound like the language of love? Is this how we really want to speak with each other?
Remember, the language of love is not limited to couples; this language should be used with all people in your life—children, family members, friends, and strangers. If you do this, you will be amazed at the changes which will occur.
Go forth and spread the love.