Monday, September 21, 2009

mary shares another lesson

A previous post, Lessons from Mary, drew a big response.  Last week I received an e-mail from Mary outlining the salient points from a workshop she and her beloved attended by Harville Hendrix, Ph.D.  Hendrix is an educator and psychotherapist specializing in working with couples.  He is the founder of Imago Relationship Therapy, which is taught and practised internationally.  He teaches effective communication skills for couples, and Mary in her e-mail below, outlines a few.

The other evening my beloved spotted this couple quietly sitting side by side witnessing the descent of day into night.  Their quiet, peaceful, non-interfering presence with each other was a delight to behold and I felt their demeanor embodies a little of what Mary brings to us from her participation in the Hendrix workshop.

Here is Mary's e-mail lesson to me . . . and now for you:

Hi Bz

Last nite Dh and I and D and P went into the big city to see and hear Harville Hendrix and what a good time we had. I have summarized his message below.  The good part was that he had us do an exercise of having the couples work with their loved one, appreciating each other . It was so much fun and the Vertical vs Horizontal dialogue example was so impactful. I have been trying to get that message across to my loved one recently, and Harville Hendrix had us experiment with it and we had FUN.

Here is the gist of the 4 Non-Negotiables from the Hendrix event.  It consists of being "KIND":

K ~

I ~

N ~

D ~

K = Know that your partner is different. That person feels, thinks, knows, perceives differently than you do. Thus you must get curious about that other and find out what's up and what's happening with that other that you love every day and night.

I = Increase appreciation. The other is AMAZING! Be amazed with the other. Appreciate, appreciate, appreciate!  Let them know.   Become the other's advocate. Celebrate the other. Take the other's side.

N = Never be negative. period ........................... period!

This lack of negativity fosters SAFETY. We cannot experience connection without safety. Judgment is TOXIC! Negativity causes the production of cortisol, the stay alert, beware hormone. This reduces health because it drains the body of immunity and thus health. This leads to chronic pain and ill health in your body and in your relationship.

D = Dialogue.

Get out of the monologue state (ranting) Ranting or lecturing is vertical communication ( up to down focus). Vertical communication leads to inequality, put downs, thus depression or "murder" (killing the self or the other in small cuts leading to a big cut). Anyone can see terrible effects of vertical communication out there in the world and in families.

Utilize dialogue or "level to level" communication = equality. This requires listening to understand, clarifying and asking for more information to understand. This is horizontal communication which begets safety and equality in the relationship also leads to CONNECTION and respect. Horizontal communication requires each other (both of you) to use it. Must take turns using it to enable equality.

We did some practice sessions with each other right there in the 7-9 pm event, so Dh and I fell in love again!  :-)

The Hendrix communication methods, and his many books, have been around for ages and you and I talked about it back in Mtl, years ago, as I recall.

So that is the latest  x x x x x x   mary


  1. Hmmm. Acronyms like this can be helpful in cementing the ideas somewhere near the edge of our conscious mind so that in the heat of life, some light shines forth. And if you can't remember what K-I-N-D stand for, if you're just kind, you'll stay in good stead. Kind is the third value (of three) which I govern my classroom. Kindness is a reliable path towards increasing happiness.

    Thanks for this post.

  2. It's easy to remember KIND.. Thank you Mary and Bonnie :))

  3. I always enjoyed seeing Harville Hendrix when he did talk shows. What he preached made so much sense. Love the "vertical communication" rule too. So many people get caught up in the need to be right that there is no dialogue.

  4. Bonnie, I've just been reading and being inspired by your last several posts. I'm really glad you post the things you do, and that I'm reading them now. Wish we lived close, I'd love to hang out and paint with you sometime. I'd say paint and talk but painting seems to delete words from my brain. :-) I love your art and photos tho.

  5. Always something to learn, to grow on, to contemplate. I so enjoy my visits, Bonnie!

    thank you, again~

    I'm with my Sis, Cat, We could form a group to paint and talk, discuss. Too bad we all live so far apart.

  6. Oh, the wisdom in K I N D...this wisdom does seem to come on it's own with age for some...learning through the years of marriage what the "4 Non-Negotiables" are...better to learn earlier though...a good gift to give to sons and daughters.

    Your observance of the "couple" and their quiet, peaceful, non-interfering presence with each other...has happened in my yard too!

  7. hmmmm, this is interesting. I understand the concept of vertical communication. I've the giver and receiver of this.

  8. Dan: Yes, I guess that is why Hendrix fit his communication concepts for couples into that acronym - then if you don't recall the concepts, you can remember to be kind and that should cover it!

    So what are the other 2 values with which you run your classroom?

  9. Jayne: He has a unique, dual aspect of being rather professorial and, at the same time, gentle. At first some of his exercises can seem stiff or stilted - but they work - one has to be willing to forge thru the discomfort of learning new ways to communicate.

  10. Catvibe: Why thank you. It is always good to know that what you are doing is appreciated.
    That does sound enticing - getting together to paint and talk. Maybe the talk would happen during breaks for a cuppa . . .

    Well, we can't do that, so we will have to make the most of this forum!

  11. Calli: Thanks. I'm so glad you have not totally disappeared. Saw your post yesterday and with your comment here - feel reassured that your presence is not lost to us.

    Sounds like a great three-some to me!

  12. Wanda: That's so true - but only true, I think, with people who have developed certain skillful communication patterns.

    I think we have a lot of things in common Wanda - not the least of which is our love of the little discoveries we make on our own land.

    It's raining here today - Is it where you are?

  13. Sandra: Yes, I'm sure we all have. It really doesn't accomplish what we think it will does it?

  14. negative never? Hmmm ,What is "negative" What is "never"/ I have issues with this sort of general all encompassing idea. Too much like "be good"...

  15. Those two doves in the photographs more or less sum up relationships for me, Bonnie - they are quiet and at ease with one another, they are giving each other space, they are able to share the evening without necessarily talking about it - what more could you want?

  16. Bonnie, does any of this really still need saying? Is there anyone sane and thoughtful who hasn't worked that out for him/herself a long time ago? Haven't we done these platitudes to death?
    I dislike the self-help gurus nowadays. Wish we could all think for ourselves and spend the money on each other.

  17. Linda Sue: I agree with you. Obviously Mary did not pass on everything Hendrix said, but I'm sure the idea was to "never" engage in "negative" put-downs or criticisms of one's mate. And if issues come up that do have to be discussed, Hendrix gives more skills for addressing unmet needs, hurts, etc - using "I" (first person) statements rather than "you" critical statements.

    Of course, there are negative behaviors or events that have to be addressed in life.

    Good point!

  18. Weaver: Yes, the same as Winnicott suggested that parents be present, not abandonning and not interfering with their children - I think the concepts (not abandonning/not interfering) apply in love relationships too. It is giving space, as you say.

  19. Friko: So tell me what you really think! :) Well, perhaps many people our age have it all figured out and these things seem like redundant platitudes - but there are many just starting out in their relationships, lacking in communication skills, common sense and empathy. The divorce rates are proof enough of that.

    So you're lucky you don't need the info, nor do you have to spend any of your money on the people offering these distillations of long available knowledge. But clearly some people do need it as evidenced by the sales of their books and the packed houses at their seminars. When it turns out to be gobbledee-gook, then the readers and audience dry up fast.

    I love your down-to-earth, common sense approach and am glad you feel comfortable to express your dissent with what I present here.

    I'll probably be posting more things for you to call me on - so stay tuned!

  20. Bonnie, thanks for visiting me. This is a very informative post you have.

  21. K - I - N - D

    A word to live by


    Words to live by

    Thanks for the information.

  22. I think maybe this was exactly what I needed to be reminded of :) We lost sight at times and let so much other stuff get in the way. Lack of negativity equals safety, I've never thought of it in that way. Good and useful stuff!

    I first heard of Harville on Oprah, and I always appreciate his perspective. How awesome to see him in person :)

  23. what a great post!
    i must remember to appreciate my hubby more instead of being a big meanie to him.
    thanks for sharing!

  24. Thank you, Bonnie! At first I thought, "well I'm not part of a couple, but I'll read anyway just in case." I'm SO glad I read this.... it will help with friendships, too!

  25. Fine relationship advice indeed. I found that going through a health crisis with my husband made us appreciate each other the more. Not being negative is especially important. Thanks for sharing.

  26. Bonnie - Sorry, if that sounded like a criticism of you. It wasn't meant to do. Like I said, when I was young and foolish and in great trouble I too followed the self-help gurus and bought their books, only to realise that so many of them do little but repeat truisms. It is probably very unkind of me not to allow other people to find that out for themselves and you are quite right to tear me down a strip.
    No hard feelings? Please?

  27. Friko!!! I have no hard feelings and apologize if my response seemed like I was "tearing you down a strip" . . . eeeeeek - not what I wanted to do at all. Just trying to explain why I post the types of things I do.

    I love your frank, no-nonsense approach to things. Please, keep on doing exactly what you do: "don't change a hair for me, not if you care for me . . ."

    I look forward to your comments because they always add a dash of spice and occasionally a little controversy. Life would get boring if everyone agreed with us all of the time.

    I value your opinions and the way you express them. Keep them coming. Please.

  28. Thank you for being willing to put up with a cantankerous old cross-patch
    like me. And honestly, I sincerely like what you post, otherwise I wouldn't keep coming back!

  29. Hey Friko - guess what? We're doing what Harville Hendrix suggests - horizontal, equal dialoguing that keep the relationship humming!
    And you didn't need him to know how to do it, just as you said!

    I don't "put up with" you. You are a delight!!!


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