One of the most valuable skills that anyone can practice in a relationship is to say to the other person, “tell me more”.
This is so when the relationship is exciting, comfortable, or if there are just easy, neutral feelings between the two of you. It is also true when you are in a conflict with someone whom you love or really care about.
If you are willing to be curious, to listen deeply, to stay engaged and to empathize, and to try to see through the other person’s lens, you are then being skillful. Of course, you can only meet another person half way. You cannot make them meet you half way. When you are in a relationship where both individuals are committed to each other, asking each other to “tell me more” will only enhance the possibilities between you.
When conflict does arise, you will have a basis for resolution.
Emotional intensity often accompanies conflict. The temptation is to continue to fight and to blame the other person for the impasse that lies between you.
Yes, it is always important to define yourself, to make your position clear.
There does come a point when to continue to restate your position is no longer useful. Certainly, to blame or tolerate being blamed, not only does no good, it actually is harmful.
It is not always easy to say “tell me more”. It is so tempting to dig in and stay with just insisting that you are right. Sometimes, if you are fighting for a just cause, that is the very thing to do.
You can fight to resolve or fight to win. Even if you are fighting to win and want to achieve a result that will last, you will have to understand who the other person is, and how they arrive at their point of view.
There is an exception. That is when you are in a relationship with someone who is being physically or emotionally abusive to you or anyone else. The exception also applies if you are causing physical harm to anyone. Then the solution is not to experience more, but rather to end the interaction as soon as possible. If there is no real possibility of change in a dangerous situation, ending the relationship is the best solution.
All of this is true in long term committed relationships between Life Partners, Spouses or those in Civil Unions. Also if the relationship is with parents or members of your extended family. Or if the relationship is with your children. The same applies in friendship, or in any relationship that matters to you.
When the goal is to deepen a relationship that is already viable, or when there is real potential of deepening a new relationship, “tell me more” is an essential skill to have in your relationship portfolio.
What does it mean to deepen a relationship? That is the subject of another blog entry.