Clear and Caring Communication
I’ve had several incidents in the past month that reminded me of the importance of clear and caring communication – a friend who needed to communicate something important to her family and wanted a bit of coaching, a dramatic breakdown of communication with my husband JW, and my needing to communicate to a dear friend my own hurt feelings after a minor incident.
I was going to launch into communication styles and techniques, which I’m still going to do, but I realized that the FIRST step of clear and caring communication is EMPATHY. While, yes, it’s important for us to communicate OUR needs and OUR feelings – THEIR NEEDS also need to be considered, we need to respect the impact on the other person. We don’t necessarily put their needs before our own, but we should try not to steamroll our loved ones in order to meet our own desires.
So what IS empathy? It often is confused for sympathy, which can have harmful results. Here’s a great video on the difference between sympathy and empathy. I feel it’s quite powerful. (I’m such a HUGE fan of Brené Brown!)
My takeaway from this video is that we have to try to FEEL what the other person may be feeling. We need to dig deep, be vulnerable, and find a part of ourselves that has hurt/feared that same way. To connect to those emotions is to truly connect with our loved one.
FEEL before you Speak!
When I’m angry, hurt, annoyed, disappointed, or frustrated due to a loved one’s behaviour – I try (I don’t always succeed *smirk*) to put myself in their shoes BEFORE attempting to communicating with them.
- Did they MEAN to do what led to my being upset? Was it intentional? (not usually… )
- Are they aware of the IMPACT of their actions? (again, rarely… )
- Could it just be miscommunication? (soooo often this is the case… )
- Is this actually an ME issue vs truly being about THEM? (THIS never happens *wink wink*)
- I will come up with multiple scenarios in my head for WHY they did what they did… What’s going on in THEIR life? This, my friends, is where we practice empathy. It doesn’t always excuse the behaviour, but it can calm us enough to communicate kindly vs blowing up. This also can take a bit of time – so we may need to take a breather, walk away, think & feel things through.
In the moment, this is SO HARD to do! Right??? So, how bout we try to practice empathy on a regular basis. I adore Loving Kindness meditations. They are a great way to soften our hearts towards not just those we love, but those who we may have difficulties. We turn our loving kindness towards ourselves, towards someone easy to love, a stranger, someone a bit tougher, and then to our community/world.
You can start with this 5 minute meditation, moving on to ten minutes eventually.
Give it a go!
For more information regarding loving kindness meditations, here’s a great article:
Next Monday – Talking from the Heart – Part II – Communication Styles
See you then!
Read. Write. Grow.