The Heart of Effective Communication: How to Love People
You hear from teachers, counselors, relationship experts, self-help experts, or religion, that you should love people – or at least love your family, friends, and others you value. We know, it’s not that easy! It’s hard to love someone you hate or who hurts you. At times you would rather punch a family member in the face to knock them out.
Carl Rogers, a pioneering psychologist in the 1950s on human relations, said love, genuineness, and empathy are three essential pieces to constructive communication. Many studies since then support Rogers’ theory. When we fail to love people, we fail to communicate in a way that supports ourselves and people. Love is the core of powerful communication. Think about it for a moment and I’m sure your experiences confirm love is the heart of effective communication.
It is unfortunate we are not taught how to love people. Instead of learning how to love, we learn to fight. Instead of learning how to love, we learn to defend ourselves. Instead of learning how to love, we learn to get our point across in a debate. It is no wonder society is deprived of the core energy that drives humanity.
This article will help you love people more. It is not about falling romantically in love with someone, though the advice can help you in that sense. You will learn how to love people to empower your communication. I will give you a logical nine-lesson plan you can easily follow. Loving others will bring an abundance of love among many great things into your life.
What is Love? It is Not What You Think
One word frees us of all the weight and pain of life: That word is love.Sophocles, 496-406 B.C.
What most people need to learn in life is how to love people and use things, instead of using people and loving things.Author Unknown
Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails.Bible, New King James Version, 1 Corinthians 13:4-8
Love is a tough subject for anyone to address. Not many people agree with a common description of love. As Haddaway’s classic hit is titled, “What is Love?” Some say it is a willingness of sacrifice, some say it is blindness to flaws, while others say it is unexplainable. Some say it is an intense devotion or affection, but that can be neediness.
Just hearing the subject of “love” makes me cringe. Love is twisted by society – not only by younger generations who are often picked on in this area – into a form that destroys its pure meaning. People think they are in “love” because they feel attraction or have been in a relationship for many years, but this does not comprehend pure love.
I’m not particularly fond of most material on love because the subject tends to categorize as romance. “Do nice things like give gifts and the person will love you.” Romance does not describe love – not even an act of love because romance by itself can be superficial and manipulative.
Love is beyond actions. Love is beyond reactions. You don’t wait for love to be created. Something deep works in pure love.
Love is beyond actions. Love is beyond reactions. You don’t wait for love to be created.
Psychologist Robert Sternberg attempted to explain love in his triangular theory of love. The theory is applicable for interpersonal relationships. It categorizes love using three scales: 1) intimacy, 2) passion, and 3) commitment. Variances in the three scales produces types of love. It is only when all three are present that a pure form of love, known as “consummate love”, can develop. Consummate love is the ultimate form of love an individual can desire.
A more applicable description of love to the style we want in this article is explained by Susan Hendrick and Clyde Hendrick in their love attitudes scale:
- Eros love is based on physical appearance. It describes superficial love.
- Ludus love is a game based on conquest. Pick-up artists (PUAs) often experience this type of love. PUAs love to conquer women. When one succeeds at getting a woman into the bedroom, he quickly loses interest in her.
- Storge love is gradually built from similarities and friendship. The transition from friendship to love is often unclear.
- Pragma love is more rational than other types of love as it is based on practicality. An extreme form of Pragma love is prostitution where financial gains rationalize attachment.
- Mania love is very possessive and unstable. Strong feelings of insecurity, neediness, and jealously drive attachment.
- Agape love is selfless, unconditional, and often spiritual.
Agape love most accurately describes the type of love we wish to have towards family and friends. We want to unconditionally love those with whom we desire to effectively communicate; not just when these people do something nice for us or when we are in a good mood. Agape love does not change when the mood or circumstances change. Agape love remains when the person you feel agape love for does something mean to you. It is unconditional and withstanding – almost divine. It is our goal here to develop an agape form of love.
The Power of Self-Love
The selflessness in agape love we wish to develop is one beyond sacrifice. It is beyond confining boundaries and a lack of concern in fulfilling one’s needs. Selflessness is about focus, attitude, and action towards others while retaining self-love. It is not about sacrificing your needs.
There is nobody more unloving than one void of self-love.
Selflessness in an area you lack resources can lead to unhealthy selfishness, which worsens by its supposed solution of selflessness. Neediness comes from poor self-love. There is nobody more unloving than one void of self-love. Being desperate for love diminishes the love you give and receive.
Rarely are selfless actions self-less. Selfish actions misinterpreted as “self-less” fail to remove the self from the action. Unselfish actions that undermine the needs of the giver builds resentment that destroy selflessness in the action. The self-less person may be a people-pleaser quietly harboring resentment from ignoring his needs and desires that have potential to kill a relationship. This makes him feel invaded and discounted.
Be selfish in the healthy sense before you are selfless. All selfishness is not wrong. If you need to be alone while your partner wants your presence, you might need to be selfish. Greed is different to healthy selfishness. In mathematics and life, you cannot give what you do not have.
To give love you must firstly have love. You can only be truly selfless when you love yourself. It is in selfishness and the selflessness of agape love that we get our first lesson on how to love someone:
1. Love yourself to love others
If you are Christian, Jesus is your unending source of love. If you are not into religion, the most reliable source for love is yourself. You do not need to approve of everything about yourself, but you do need to accept yourself. You will always have flaws you dislike. Accept it. Only by loving yourself can you love others.
The Give-Take Relationship of Love
As babies, we were dependent on our guardians. We would cry to be feed, cry to be warmed, and cry to be loved (some adults have hardly changed). We wanted to receive without giving. The only thing we gave was emotional warmth and love, yet that was out of our control accidentally created from people’s perceptions towards us. Perhaps the only true thing we gave as a baby was regurgitated food.
As we began to age, we became more “independent”. We were able to feed ourselves, make ourselves warm, and put a shelter over our heads. Rarely does our growth extend beyond this independence or dependence. We are still that crying baby who wants everything without giving.
On the rare occasions we give, we hope to receive something of higher value in exchange. We give because of reciprocation. A part of this problem comes from our teachers and parents advising us to avoid people who take advantage of us. We get conditioned to not be conned by someone who fails to return a favor.
The principle of reciprocation is a double-edged sword that can empower you. It states that humans have an inherent desire to return favors. When something is seen as a favor, not an obligation or expectation, we react by reciprocating something to the person of equal or greater value. By giving we usually receive more than what we gave. Give love to others to receive things you cannot comprehend.
Give love to others to receive things you cannot comprehend.
Unfortunately, when we do give and do not instantly receive, our giving stops. The expectations we create are the demise of our giving. Our expectations, which exceeds results, makes us dissatisfied. If you think you need to receive love from others in order to give love, you live reactively. The more you get, the more you want. Neediness disables you from loving people.
Stephen Covey in The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People says most people interpret love as a feeling, a reaction from events. Hollywood drives us to think love is a product of circumstance – a feeling out of our control. People who live reactively to their environment blame others and situations for a lack of love.
Covey says “proactive people make love a verb”. They create the life they want. The greatest lovers in the world are people who live by their value of giving love instead of reacting to the moment. It is through loving that love is created. This is our second principle:
2. Simply start loving to love
We live in an interdependent society reliant on people, as they are on us, so we need to give. When we love others, they often in turn love us. It is easier to love someone who first loved us. The purpose of loving yourself is to create love in your life so you can love. An active creator of his reality does not wait for the right circumstances – he does what he wants complete.
Agape love is not dependent on firstly receiving love. Agape love is free from limiting conditions. It gives without receiving. Mildred Norman Ryder, also known as the “Peace Pilgrim”, nicely said, “Pure love is a willingness to give without a thought of receiving anything in return”. This gives us our third lesson of loving someone:
3. Give love without expectation of receiving love
You may fear giving love and receiving none in return. Rejection is scary, but protecting yourself blocks the flow of love into your life. The need to receive love in exchange for love is needy, approval-seeking, and destructive. Reduce your need for someone’s approval to empower yourself to love the person. Agape love is unconditional. Loving someone without the expectation of being loved in return, takes you one-step toward radical personal responsibility and unconditional love.
Daniel Goleman in his revolutionizing book Social Intelligence looks at the science of human relationships. He emphasizes the need to go beyond ourselves. When we overcome self-absorption, we can connect with people and love them. “When we focus on others, our world expands,” says Goleman. “Our own problems drift to the periphery of the mind and so seem smaller, and we increase our capacity for connection – or compassionate action.”
How to Create Love Everywhere in Your Life
The worry of giving without receiving is scarcity. We fear being conned, taken advantaged of, and receiving unfair treatment. Scarcity assumes love is a limited resource. It means there is a finite amount of love in the world so you better keep what you need to yourself. Your perception of love makes your survival dependent on hogging the resource.
When we focus on others, our world expands.
What you think is rare can be everywhere. Extend your self-love to others. Self-love empowers your giving of love compared to the limitations of giving it from guilt, ego, and scarcity. “Love wasn’t put in your heart to stay,” said the singer Michael Smith. “Love isn’t love until you give it away.”
Though scarcity can work against us when loving others, it can also work for us. The principle of scarcity states that we value a resource more when it is rare. Knowing love is scarce in the sense it can be lost, makes you value it more. This gives the fourth lesson to love someone:
4. There is no better time to love than now
If you lose a loved one, you know the value of love in that moment. Some people are too late to express their love. They regret failing to communicate their love to someone no longer with them. Do not be someone who devalues what is in your life until it disappears. A love-filled person knows their love in a person’s life counts. Tell someone important to you right now, “I love you.”
How to Transform Pain Into Pleasure
You may use experiences to justify the lack of love in your life. It is your choice to overcome feelings of blame, resentment, and hatred towards others. Yes, it is literally a choice.
I’m not saying to ignore historical emotions like pain and anger, but rather to do what you need to recover. When you experience such feelings, you fight an uphill battle that discourages you from loving who “caused” these feelings. Take anger, for example. It is not bad. Anger signals a problem you need to work through, a conversation you need to have, or a cry you need to share.
A loving person knows their love in a person’s life counts.
When you feel anger at someone for a bad event in your life, you lack radical personal responsibility. It is a sign you are reactive rather than proactive. Men who complain women are “bitches” and women who complain men are “jerks”, are examples of two types of people who lack personal responsibility. Once you accept radical responsibility, you release anger. You allow love to enter your life.
Treat the pain to experience the gain. The elimination of emotional pain through radical responsibility gives you the fifth lesson to love someone:
5. Heal blame and resentment to make love possible
Will the acceptance of radical personal responsibility remove all your bitterness towards others? No. It is not about the removal of anger, but altering your victim mindset that people cause your pain. Every second you decide how to respond to the world. Use the part of you that has you behave beyond everyday annoyances to accept radical responsibility.
Resentment comes from blame. Iit needs a mention by itself because of its destructive capabilities. Resentment is a powerful emotion that builds in size when you fail to forgive someone and take responsibility. Learn the art of forgiveness to erase resentment. We think we hurt others with an attachment of resentment, but we only hurt ourselves.
What If You Really Dislike Someone?
When I teach people to love others to improve their communication, they often complain they cannot love, forgive, or even like someone in their life. The underlying story of their argument is something unique in their history excludes them from being able to love.
While this hints that the person is yet to forgive, they mistake love for liking. You can dislike someone you love. Jewish philosopher Martin Buber saw that love is a choice while liking is more reactive. We do not always choose who to like, but we choose who to love. Your sixth lesson to love people is to remind yourself:
6. Loving is not liking
It is possible to love someone you dislike. Love is not a group of feelings even though feelings accompany love. What you feel is a result of what you did. Hit movies trick you to believe love is luck.
Love is a choice. You choose to love yourself because it is best for you. Decide to love people because you want the best for them. There is your seventh lesson:
7. Want the best for people
My Secret to Love People and Communicate Better
You may be held back from wanting the best for people because you are hurt. What helps me to always want the best for people, overcome pain, and see love in everything, is to think about the meaning of “appreciate”. To appreciate is to increase in value. Therefore, to be grateful for everything in your past, increase your feelings of value toward your experiences. To be grateful for your present, value the world around you.
Here is a useful exercise to help love people you resent. It will make you grateful for everything in your past and present, and create an abundance of love in your life. This exercise will create our eighth lesson:
Love is in the Air
John Paul Young’s 1978 hit “Love is in the Air” focused on romantic love. Its title is true for all your personal, social, and professional relationships. People struggle to love even their family, but love can be in the air to help you better communicate with everyone. Love is equally vital for your relationships as oxygen is for your survival. You cannot see it, but it gives life.
8. Be grateful for your past and present
Think of significant positive and negative events in your past. Make the events things that changed your life. Summarize them on a piece of paper in separate rows. If you have a painful memory of how your parents raised you, you could write, “I hate the way my parents abused me.”
Beside each significant event, write what you are thankful for about the event. It can be tough to spot a lesson in a problem – you may need to think about it for sometime. A benefit exists – it always exists. I suggest you read Mind-Lines to conquer the challenge of seeing empowering qualities in challenges.
If you disliked how you were raised by your parents, you could be thankful for:
- The independence they created in you
- Your new knowledge on how not to raise children
- The desire they gave you to lovingly raise your children
People who value lessons and opportunities, instead of being absorbed in pain and problems, are sometimes accused of delusion. Negativity and pain is no more real than positiveness and pleasure. Hate is no more real than love. You decide to be grateful for everything in your past and present. You decide to be loving. You decide to communicate well.
Being grateful for everything in your past and present removes pain. It makes you aware of the abundance of love in life you ignored. We now have our ninth and last lesson on how to love someone:
9. See abundance and you will be exposed to an abundance of love
Love is everywhere. It is in our past and present. It will reside in our future – more so if you follow the advice in this article. “Although humans inherit a biological bias that permits them to feel anger, jealousy, selfishness and envy, and to be rude, aggressive or violent,” says Harvard psychologist Jerome Kagan, “they inherit an even stronger biological bias for kindness, compassion, cooperation, love and nurture.”
It is your choice to see the abundance of love because it is real. It is also your choice to use your biological gift of compassion and love to bring an abundance of this precious energy into your life. “Only when we give joyfully, without hesitation or thought of gain,” said love expert Leo Buscaglia, “can we truly know what love means.”
Joshua Uebergang aka "Tower of Power"
Joshua Uebergang, aka "Tower of Power", teaches social skills to help shy persons build friends and influence people. Visit his blog and sign-up free to get communication techniques, relationship-boosting strategies, and life-building tips by email, along with blog updates, and more! Go now to http://www.towerofpower.com.au/free/