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How's Your Chemistry Quotient?
"He is a really nice guy and has many of the qualities I am looking for, but something just isn't there for me." "I don't know what it is about my boss, but we just didn't click right from the start." "My father and I have been in conflict since I was young- we just seem to rub each other the wrong way." "I love my kids equally, but I find it so much easier to "like" one more than the other."
What do all of these statements have in common? They are all describing a problem with CHEMISTRY-, which impacts all of our relationships throughout our lives. Many people have at least some rudimentary understanding of what chemistry is. We know that it has a physical dimension, but how many of us really KNOW the whole truth about attraction?
Physical chemistry results from the release of a substance called phenyl ethylamine (PEA), which is a naturally occurring chemical in the brain. PEA stimulates us and increases our attraction energy, which then causes us to secrete even greater amounts into our system. As PEA levels increase they stimulate our system to release dopamine, which is a substance that increases our desire to be physically close and emotionally connected. Because there is a strong physical component to attraction, many people erroneously believe that they have little or NO control over the process of choosing friends and lovers and/or being chosen by the people they are drawn to. This belief is incorrect because it completely leaves out the other components of attraction, which must be present in some measure in order to find and (more importantly) sustain any relationship.
So, what are these other elements and how much influence do they have on our choices regarding friends, lovers and others we interact with in our work and social lives? They are our spiritual, intellectual and emotional dimensions- those (non-physical) parts of our inner selves that help us to achieve a deeper connection and lasting intimacy in all our relationships. Along with the dizzying effects of PEA, they make up our Chemistry Quotient. The good news? You will become more attractive to people when you learn how to positively connect to them on this deeper level.
The following tips will help you make these connections and raise your overall chemistry quotient. Read them carefully and evaluate your present CQ in each area. Ask trusted friends and family for their observations and make a commitment- starting today- to hold an ever-present awareness of how and what you communicate to others.
* Present an open and appropriately warm and inviting presence. A good level of eye contact coupled with a smile, lets the other person know you are happy to make their acquaintance or to see them again. When you are welcoming like this, others will be drawn to you, feel at ease in your presence, want to approach you, get to know you and/or spend time with you.
* Greet everyone with a smile and hello. This will help to make a difference for both of you- even during those times of high stress and overload. I had a co-worker like this years ago who was liked and respected by everyone.
*Be aware of the tone in your voice. It has been said that it is not what we say but how we say it. Is your voice clear, upbeat and not too loud or soft? Do you communicate confidence, sincerity and warmth- or something quite different? Think about a past reaction you have had to the way someone said something and how THIS is what you heard- rather than the words they used.
* Be careful not to dominate the conversation. You may be excited and/or anxious but need to give the other person a chance to share about something that is important to them or offer their feedback on something you have said. Try to never interrupt- your point can wait until they are finished.
* Use reflective listening in your conversations with others. This is an easy technique where you paraphrase back to the speaker what they have just shared with you. It lets them know that they have been heard and helps them to feel understood and validated.
* When discussing difficult or potentially sensitive or controversial topics, be careful about what you say in general. You have a right to your opinion, but don't have the right to shove it down someone else's throat. Be sensitive to their right to disagree and still have your respect.
* Stay positive. Don't talk about how you hate your job, how awful your family is, how badly in debt you are, etc. Be upbeat and fun unless it is a serious conversation with someone you have a close (and trusting) relationship with.
* When discussing difficult topics with people you already have a relationship with- co-workers, family or friends- try to begin each point you make with the "I" word as opposed to the "you" word. This way you are letting them know how you feel without putting all the responsibility for the problem on them. In fact, you are taking responsibility for your feelings when you use "I". An example of this is; "I feel hurt when you speak to me in an angry tone." Now compare that statement to this one; "You are always angry when we talk about that."
* Be careful not to criticize, judge, lecture or be "controlling" with others. Don't offer advice unless asked for it. Try to stay supportive and non-judgmental.
Keep these tips in the front of your mind as you go throughout the course of your daily life. Start with the ones that are most comfortable for you and use them with the people you feel "safest" with. Consider applying one new tip to all your interactions each day. This way, you will get lots of practice- and as your chemistry quotient rises, you will find yourself able to master even the toughest social situations with a new ease and confidence.
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Toni Coleman, LCSW
© Copyright 2008 Antoinette Coleman. All rights reserved.
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