In every aspect of our lives, relationships are critically important. Healthy relationships are clean, free of assumptions about who she is, what his intentions really are, why she said what she did, why he behaves as he does.

If you want to strengthen a relationship, deepen communication by checking out assumptions, instead of acting as if the story in your mind is truth. Take the risk of sharing what you heard the person say, or describing the behavior you noticed. Then, ask her about its meaning, instead of assuming your interpretation is correct. Respectful word choices and tone of voice, along with nonthreatening body language, are key.

Constructively expressed, your sincere interest in your colleague or loved one is evidence that you care and value his intended meaning over the story you imagined might be true.

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