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The Art of Holding Hands: A guide to understanding communication

Communication

Many of us can resonate with the profound sense of comfort that comes from a loved one clasping our outstretched hand. This simple gesture mirrors the essence of communication.




Consider the metaphor of holding hands: One person extends their hand, initiating a conversation, inquiry, or invitation. The response is pivotal—the other person either reciprocates, symbolizing connection and safety, or withdraws, indicating a lack thereof.


Examples of reaching out, akin to extending a hand, include:

  • "Hey, can we discuss the disagreement from last night?"

  • "Did you have a chance to call your mom today?"

  • "Would you like to watch a movie tonight?"

Ideally, the response mirrors the reciprocal act of holding hands:

  • "Of course, let me wrap up what I'm doing, and I'll be fully present."

  • "I didn't manage to, but thank you for the reminder."

  • "Sure, and perhaps we could even make some popcorn!"

Yet, life doesn't always align with ideals. Consider a scenario where Partner A seeks dialogue, but Partner B responds defensively:

  • "Why are you bringing this up again? I thought we had settled it."

This response fails to cultivate a sense of safety for Partner A and by looking at partner B's perspective, we can understand that they lacked a sense of safety too. Perhaps Partner A's approach felt accusatory or critical (perhaps a finger being pointed instead of a hand reaching out), leading to Partner B getting defensive. This pattern perpetuates a cycle of Partner A feeling neglected and Partner B feeling inadequate, regardless of the specific topic. Perception often shapes our reactions more than the other person's intent does.


So I would encourage you to get curious about how you are perceiving hands being reached out to you and how others are perceiving your hand being reached out to them as a different way to understand communication.

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