1. Experiencing what is.
Distinguish between what you actually experience (see, hear, sense, feel, notice, remember) versus what you imagine (interpret, believe, assume) to be true. The statement “I see you looking at the floor’ is your own experience. The statement ‘I see you are uncomfortable’ is an interpretation. If you get caught up in believing your interpretations about another person’s behavior, you’ll be responding to your interpretation of what she did instead of what she actually did.
2. Being transparent.
To be transparent is to be willing to be seen, warts and all. Contrary to what we may think, most people become more appealing when they reveal their needs and insecurities. This doesn’t mean presenting the story of your wounds and misfortunes in vivid detail. It’s more a matter of practicing being open about your feelings, impressions, wants, and self-talk about your interaction with the person in front of you.
3. Noticing your intent.
Do you communicate to relate or to control? When your intent is to relate, you are most interested in revealing your true feelings, learning how the other feels, and connecting heart-to-heart. When your intent is to control, you are most interested in getting things to turn out a certain way – avoiding conflict, getting the person to like you, being seen as knowledgeable or helpful, etc.
4. Giving and asking for feedback.
Giving feedback is the act of verbally letting the other know how his actions affected you. Being open to receiving feedback means you are curious about and willing to hear how your actions affect other people. Most people don’t get very much valid feedback in their daily lives, and they long for it.
5. Asserting what you want and don’t want.
Many of us are afraid to ask for what we want in a relationship for fear or either not getting it or of having the other person give it to them out of obligation. Asking for what you want is an act of trust. You are taking a step into the unknown – not knowing how the other person will respond.
6. Taking back projections.
If some aspect of my own personality is unconscious or suppressed, I may find that I have a pattern of being attracted to men who exhibit this quality in spades. Have you ever been attracted to someone for some wonderfully appealing quality only to discover a few months down the road that this very same quality turned you off? That’s a great opportunity to take back or rediscover your own hidden qualities.
7. Revising an earlier statement.
This means giving yourself permission to revisit a particular interaction or moment in time if your feelings change or if you later connect to some deeper feelings or afterthoughts. For instance: “After I said such and such, I later realized there was more to it than that. What I now feel is ________.”
8. Holding differences or embracing multiple perspectives.
Many people fear intimacy because we fear losing ourselves in a relationship. If you know how to practice holding differences, you won’t need to fear losing yourself. This is the capacity to listen to and empathize with opinions that differ from yours without losing touch with your own perspective.
9. Sharing mixed emotions.
Sometimes we want to tell someone the truth but at the same time we are concerned about their feelings. A desire to clear the air might be accompanied by a fear of being misunderstood. If you do have mixed feelings, expressing both feelings can add depth to your communication.
10. Embracing Silence.
Authentic communication depends as much on silence as it does on words – the silences between your words and the silence you have spoken as you await the other’s response. Embracing silence encourages understanding that there are many things that cannot be known all at once or once and for all. These things emerge gradually as we get to know the other person.
From Truth in Dating: Finding Love by Getting Real by Susan M. Campbell, Ph.D.