The Power of Perception

“The eye sees only what the mind is prepared to comprehend”

Being socially competent in a relationship means recognizing that other people have emotions, desires, thoughts and beliefs, being able to properly interpret the other person’s inner state based on a multitude of observable behaviors that include body language, facial expressions, tonality, cadence of speech and word choices, while appropriately making behavioral decisions to nurture and support that relationship. The power of perception is a critical skill to develop for reading the wealth of information that is generated and communicated through body language within social interactions. This is incredibly true with intimate personal relationships, yet a common phenomena takes place; as we are exposed to greater and greater levels of shared information, personal narratives, thoughts, beliefs, dreams, fears and aspirations of our partner, we naturally tend to be less observant to the subtle social cues that we are highly vigilant of when we knew the person less. Countering this natural tendency, and actively being perceptive of our partners is an important relationship skill to develop, as it aids in communication and increases relationship bonding by validating your partner emotionally.

The power of emotional validation…

Women consistently state in social studies of being more satisfied in a relationship when their partner was attempting to be emotionally sensitive, demonstrate empathy skills, along with active listening traits to understand them and accurately judged their emotions (this is a form of preemptive emotional needs communication) . Consequently it is the second greatest factor in determining relationship longevity, the first being having an upbeat and positive attitude. (Depressed and negative partners are more than a drag, they are emotionally toxic and a direct threat to the health, wellbeing and effectiveness of the relationship. Militaries the world over recognize this and openly promote and manage morale welfare. It wouldn’t be foolish to develop a similar posture in our relationships.) What is of particular interest in these studies is that women also value the effort men make, almost as much as the outcome of the conversation. Women essentially value the emotional support given to them by their partner over any other base trait other than raw sexual attraction and security. By actively taking a leadership role and consciously monitoring our partners, being sensitive to their emotional shifts, employing active listening skills and providing simple emotional validation of our partners on a regular basis can we hugely affect the health and wellbeing of our relationships for the positive.

Poker face…

In poker, a “tell’ is a detectable change in a player’s behavior or demeanor that gives clues to that player’s assessment of their given hand. More accurately it is a change in a person’s behavior that gives clues to their emotional state or awareness. We all have them as we all have detectable changes in behavior based on our state of mind and the situation around us. This will be true of our partners as well. There is simply no substitute for practice when we are looking to spot our partners tells and thus being more aware of the emotional state, desires, drives and prejudices of our partners. A partner’s tell is obvious signal at a need for communication if we learn to look for them.

Letting light in…

Sometimes we just don’t know what the signals we see are or represent. There may be conflicting verbal statements with a myriad of body language displays that do not point directly to any one emotion or unknown issue or are out of sync and conflict with one another. The simplest way to clear up any confusion is to simply ask; ‘ Hey, babe, is everything ok, you seem upset by something?’ This simple act of opening up communication based on observable behavior may all that they are looking for or needing to get dialog flowing and coming to grips with whatever is occupying them. Other times our partners will state that they are ‘fine’ when in fact they are not. Usually this is because they have not resolved their feeling prior to engaging in communication or are resistant to bring it up for fear of any number of reasons. By asking a question, we open ourselves up to the possibility of a deflected response or a denial of an underlying issue. It is far better to take the emotional risk and demonstrate leadership traits by making a statement regarding your observation; ‘Babe, you’re walking around like an angry cat, tell me what’s going on.’ By being perceptive and actively being receptive to unclogging the lines of communication we can help do our part in getting information, understanding and connectedness to our partners to flow.

Unchecked dependency needs…

Being a competent and sensitive social partner does not mean soliciting continuous requests for verification from your partner, as to their emotional status. Monitoring your partner is not a relationship form of the Verizon phone commercial where you ask your partner over and over again “Can you hear me now?” We are looking for changes of behavior, flash signals and behavioral keys that are social signals that there is something troubling our partner, to develop and utilize the skill of perception within a relationship to trigger needed communication or connection with our partner.

When there isn’t a problem, but a desire…

Being stressed in a rushed world or otherwise preoccupied with the daily grind, it is terrifyingly easy to neglect a relationship, to take our partner for granted, to not be available, to miss signs that our partners emotionally want and need to feel more connected with us. Frequently our partners will have tells not only for what is bothering them, but for when they desire closeness and connection with us. These are effectively ‘bids’ for your attention, as they are in many ways competing for it from everything else that has your attention over them. As was stated earlier, happiness measured in a relationship is directly correlated to the number and degree of bids offered and accepted between a couple… in correlation to that rebuffed or ignored bids are a form of rejection, and it too is directly correlated to the degree of unhappiness and in-validation a partner feels within a relationship. Stop paying attention to your partner and it’s game over… We cannot afford to become complacent within our relationships as hypergamy doesn’t sleep. It is always at work and play. The question becomes then, do you see your partner? Do you take the time to notice them? Being perceptive of your partners tells them that you do and is the starting point for many essential relationship discussions.

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