For several years on a regular basis, I have met with a therapist & coach to help me navigate through my thoughts, feelings and experiences. We have spent hundreds of hours discussing relationships, whether it be relationships with my husband, family, friends, co-workers, bosses or myself.
Like anything in life, relationships have their ups and downs. When they are down, I focus on bringing them back to a healthy state, or sometimes have to recognize the relationship has hit its expiration date. There have only been a couple relationships I have decided to move on from, and it has taken great effort to keep many of my most important relationships intact.
There are several strategies I have used over the years, like reaching out even when I feel its the other persons turn and going along to get along. Oftentimes most strategies do not work all that well. Besides letting go of any resentment and forgiveness (in circumstances it exists), the one strategy that never seems to fail is displaying genuine curiosity in the other person.
My therapist recommended being curious to both my husband and me during a particular family crisis. I remember not believing her when she told us to stop focusing on what the other person did wrong and instead be curious about those who we were in the relationship with. She recommended we start asking them more questions about themselves. The questions could be about their childhood, careers, or hobbies, to name a few. She said this will not only get your mind off of existing tension, but the other person would feel appreciated, honored, and happy to share their story. More importantly, we would likely gain a larger matter of respect for that person.
After practicing curiosity we have a better understanding as to who they are and why tension may exist, making it easier to let go of resentment. When I started being curious, I listened, I heard and started to see more clearly. This lead me to understand and accept the person on the other side of the relationship, and allowed the relationship to grow.
This week, I came across the article “How Curiosity Can Help Us Be Kinder and Less Judgmental”, by Jen Picicci. This article is a story on how being curious helped Picicci become less judgmental of others (strangers included). She said curiosity helped her be less assumptive of others actions or behaviors. Picicci did not ask questions like I do, but instead dreamed of all sorts of reasons why someone would behave a certain way. When she thought of many reasons and was curious, it made the other seem more relate-able and she had a better understanding of them, therefore releasing judgement.
So the next time you find yourself having a difficult time in a relationship, or having judgement be curious. See how that changes your perspective and allows you to live a kinder, more accepting life.