Friday, 1 February 2013

Q 15: "Love, love me do!" What can we learn from a love song?

How we can ask for things in such a way that others are happy to respond? In a month overflowing with pink love hearts, I take my inspiration from a love song ...

I love you! might be exactly what you want to say ... But then, as we don't always ask for things directly, it might just be a covert request, Do you love me, too? Or even a demand, Love me – Do! 

Love, love me do!
You know I love you
I'll always be true
So pleeeeease, love me do!

If we want people to respond positively, we need to ask in a way most likely to be heard and appreciated by the other person – just like our singers here. 

So what do Paul and John do that helps? And can we apply it ourselves (without breaking into song) – whether to love, or more mundane matters?

Three questions which create a connection
Above all, it helps to create a positive connection. Then people can relate to you – and so to what you say – easily and effectively. 

You can engage people's interest in different ways (in any sequence): 

1. What's happening? 
Set the context – briefly! What are the facts? What's in your mind? What's gone on (in the past)? What are you envisaging (for the future)?
2. How are you with it?
How do you feel about it? What's important to you here? What matters?  Add colour and interest by saying how the situation affects you – personalise it! Describe how it lives and breathes in you. Give it meaning; bring it to life for the people listening. 

3. What next? 
Where do you go from here? What do you want to happen next? Set the shape and direction of what follows; how to move things forward. Once you know what you need, you can be clear what to do about it – or ask others to do it for you.

These three questions are implicit in every interaction. By making them explicit, we give people a full picture of ourselves, on our own ground. This makes it easier for them to see and hear us as we really are. We connect.

The Beatles' request
The lover in the Beatles' verse answers all three questions. The result is that his sweetheart knows 1. what he's talking about, 2. where he's coming from, and 3. what he wants to happen. 

Why should she (or he, of course) always love him? Oh! Because he loves her, and is loyal and trustworthy ... great! Now, when he makes his final request, it's likely she's happy to hear it: 

1.     Love, love me do
The singer sets a context. Here, he gives a little preview, which indicates where the conversation is heading ("Well dear, I'd like to spend some time talking about our relationship!")

2.     You know I love you
He says how he is: his feelings

I'll always be true
He says what he cares about: his needs and values –loyalty and trust

3.   So pleeeeease, love me do!
He makes his request very clear; being extra sure to communicate that it is request, not a demand!

Getting a clear answer
Having made our clear request, how can we make sure we get a clear answer? We don't want to wriggle awkwardly in an embarrassing silence. It's good to know how our words have landed.

So we can finish the request with a question. Check in with the other person, and find out whether the request will work for them. Throw the ball into their court:
  • How does that sound?
  • Does that work okay for you?
  • What do you think?
  • Are you up for this?
It's considerate towards the other person to discover how our words affect them. Taking their needs into account is another way to engage their interest, and keeps our communication genuine and aware. 

For example...
Here, I try making a request of you!

Now you've read this month's tip [1], I'm curious to hear what you make of it [2 – my feelings]. So to enrich my own understanding with your insights and ideas [2 – my needs and values], I wonder whether you'd be happy to put a comment directly onto my blog? [3]. How does that sound to you?

Any text book approach to communication is likely to sound strange. The skill is to make it your own. You might even try singing it – like the Beatles!

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  1. Elizabeth's monthly tips always give me a reason to stop and think, even though I am just scanning through my emails and usually in a hurry. I think it is because she is so honest in her thoughts and really reaches out to us, without ever preaching or telling us what to do.
    Please keep on sharing these valuable thoughts Elizabeth - we are listening!

  2. Thank you for the invitation to comment here, Locana. This reminded me that I value reciprocity highly and although each offering presents an opportunity to give something back (and in giving back, give to myself also, nurturing a valued activity), I hadn't quite made the connection fully. That is to say, I hadn't taken myself over to your mountain to see how things looked and felt.

    Presenting the question in terms of the inspiration of a song showed me how NVC can be naturalised into everyday language, once the structures of interpretation are absorbed deeply into our understanding.

    In this particular instance, I wonder whether the register in which the communication is presented doesn't obscure the need to take into account how the person addressed might be? 'Love, love me do!' feels to me as though it is an appeal from someone very much on their own ground, their own mountain, calling across the void to someone else's. So maybe there is an extra ingredient here, besides the three questions that create connection, concerned with selecting a means of communication that allows the other person to hear, based on an understanding of who they are. Or perhaps the ground between the mountains can be described in terms other than 'the void' - known to some degree, sufficient to send out the appeal as presented in the song?

    Thank you as ever for the invitation to pause and reflect and inwardly digest the wisdom of NVC, Locana. I look forward to engaging with the next question.

    Julie CF

  3. Thank you so much for taking the time to visit me on my mountain, Julie. And for expressing that here. Your question gives me the chance to say what I did not have room to stay in the tip, so I particularly relish it.

    There's an added ingredient which I like to bring into the classic NVC approach. It's precisely what you point to here. While standing on our own ground, I like to reach across and acknowledge the other person on theirs. Not being telepathic, we cannot do this exactly (without the danger of second guessing the other person). But we can in a general way let them know that it is important to us that they are well and fine. In other words, we express BOTH our own needs for ourselves, AND our needs for others to be happy.

    In this case, the lyrics of the song do not do this. To acknowledge the other person, as you suggest, the singer might add his wish that his sweetheart loves him only if it feels right for her, if that is what she chooses, if the time and place are right for her… and to say all that, while making it very clear he is still keen. He would be offering her an open choice, while stating unambiguously what he wants. This would be quite a tall order for anyone in love, and even more so, for a songwriter! But if you are ever inspired to give it a go, I would love to see your lyrics... :))

    In any request, I think the very strongest point of connection is our wish for the other person's needs to be included in the outcome. That for me creates a bridge, which crosses the 'void' you mention.

    Thanks again for your comment!