A few years ago, I read a fascinating book called The Tipping Point, written by Malcolm Gladwell. The premise of this novel is how certain products or service immediately become an extreme, overnight success and identifying when that magic moment happened. How the success of Rubik’s Cube, or a children’s TV show like Sesame Street, was not a coincidence; they were a strategically engineered plot to become that big. A more recent example of this phenomena (not in the paperback) would be Facebook. Remember when having a Facebook account was a privilege by invitation only? Now it seems peculiar not to have one.
It made me wonder, when does one reach the ‘tipping point’ concerning relationships with a significant other? When does it happen that you no longer have to audition for the privilege of a permanent role in another person’s life and to feel stable in a secure, loving partnership? To know without a doubt, you are truly accepted for who you are, and not the perfection you were blindly elevated to during the dating phase? To go beyond the honeymoon stage and build a strong foundation together while confidently looking toward a wonderful future? Where incredible attributes and minor flaws are both accepted for who you are as a real, normal person. To feel comfortable expressing an opinion without fear of the dreaded permanent change in sentiment should they not be aligned with your significant others expectations, or even more important, their values. Where differences are embraced without judgement or character assassination.
Maybe you are familiar with that person? The one that appears to have a virtual clipboard with them to mark off when you have been good, and when you have been bad so they can perform a Benjamin Franklin close on the results later. One side (X) adds up the how often “You were sweet”, moments. The other side (Y) adds up the, “I can’t believe you just did that”, shocks. When the audition is over, ahem, I mean date, there will be X amount of positives, and Y amount of negatives, that add up to Z. If Z is greater than X, values must be different and it is not a path worth chancing their fate on. With the snap of a finger, the relationship is over.
The moment when Y created the tipping point to outweigh X and cause Z, may have been only ten seconds. For some, that is enough to form a life altering conviction. The other person will be left stunned as they wonder what just happened, unfair as it may seem. Does this sound familiar? Intimately perhaps? Now the real question is, are you the one holding the virtual clipboard, or the one being scrutinized? Are you self aware enough to admit maybe, you’ve held both positions? This is something I too, am beginning to reconcile with.
In Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP), those life changing ten seconds are defined as a mind read. Rarely does anything good come from a mind read as it presupposes that one can, when in reality, we can not. It doesn’t take into account the person making their statement may have deleted, distorted or generalized their communication. How the receiver may have, deleted, distorted, or generalized what they heard as well. Perhaps a judgement was made so quickly that even before all the communication was presented, it was blocked from being heard as an opinion was already determined from what was heard. Doesn’t seem ethical does it? Yet this behavior happens quite frequently.
The mind read was a ‘tipping point’ to another NLP communication pattern, cause and effect. Whatever Y was that outweighed X, ‘caused’ the new belief Z to negatively judge the other character. The effect part of the equation was a change in attitude with emotional walls being erected to prevent being further dismayed. Depending on how strong the judgement was of Y, and whether a civil discussion can be had, will determine if it is possible to move beyond that setback. The sooner the better as what is interesting about protective walls, is they were taken from the foundation a couple was trying to build upon. What is fantastic about the human soul? Anything is possible if two people want it strongly enough. Walls can be torn down that were put up between you, and put back into strengthening your foundation. You both have to want it.
So what is the secret? According to Kung Fu Panda there is no secret; it is locked amongst ourselves. We have the ability to choose attitudes, our own personal tipping point. The secret is inside our Pandora's box called choice. If in a moment we choose to be critical and negative, we are. If in a moment, we choose to be understanding and open to another’s opinion without projecting vengeance, we can. The secret is being aware that we have that choice. With that choice comes an even greater responsibility called acceptance. Not all opinions will be similar to our own, and that’s perfectly all right. A difference of opinion will sometimes heighten a new understanding in us. That is something to look forward to, don’t you think?
What else is not a secret? That we are responsible for our communication. I’ve learned that when I distort an opinion and believe the person to whom I’m speaking to can mind read what I generalized, it invariably ends badly. By being ambiguous, it is my fault when the person I am interacting with does not understand me. I caused their effect by not conveying the right words to get my intention across. My role in a conversation is to be sure I’m understood and I should patiently persevere until I am. If I don’t, the resulting confusion is my fault.
When does the tipping point arrive in relationships? When both people choose to be at cause for how they communicate, when both are at cause for what they understand, when judgements are dropped, and when acceptance prevails. As this happens, two people will move closer and closer by learning how to get over the hurdles that come across their path. The hurdles that are overcome, reinforce the foundation. And that is a good thing, isn’t it? Kung Fu Panda was a wise bear!
The last secret? Be at cause for the tipping points in your relationships, and life. Choose your ten seconds wisely

Author's Bio: 

Joanne Vermeulen is a Trainer and Master Practitioner of Neuro Linguistic Programming, and Hypnotherapy residing in Scheveningen, The Netherlands. She is currently finishing her first novel, and has a home business offering life-changing NLP Breakthrough Sessions.