Sometimes things get heated.
We have disagreements with loved ones.
We fall out with our clients.
Most of us avoid confrontation like the plague, so we have very little practise in how to actually tackle those moments when something just has to be said.
But there is a way, although you may not like it.
It requires you to find middle ground.
It requires you to let go of being right.
In short, compassionate communication requires you to ask yourself the question:
HOW CAN I ADD MORE LOVE TO THIS?
Few people like confrontation, I’m no different.
But many years ago I made the choice to communicate to the best of my ability with love and compassion, not blame and shame.
But that’s not always easy.
Being a lover of language, this is definitely my kind of challenge – finding just the right words to communicate my needs and feelings while respecting and acknowledging those of the other party.
A great example came up when I was enjoying a delightful glass of malbec with a good friend and colleague the other week.
We’re both solopreneurs and a regular feature of our chat is how to best deal with those hairy or difficult situations that arise when working with clients.
I’ve had many requests for this kind of help over the years and here’s a few tips that I shared with my friend:
- Let go of the need to be right. If you don’t you will want to go on the offensive and say things like, “You did this…” ; “I did that…”; “That wasn’t my job/role/responsibility…” “This is your fault.” This is not compassionate communication, it’s one-up-man-ship. If you can’t shift the need to say these things, write an email, get it all out, then delete it, and start again.
- Put yourself in their shoes. This will help you to let go of the need to be right. Acknowledge their point of view and show empathy for how they feel. This isn’t agreeing with what they are saying, but trying to understand their perspective rather than just saying they’re wrong will take the heat out of the situation. For instance, you could say: “I’m sorry that you feel upset about this.” “I get that you’re quite frustrated by this situation.” “I know you’re feeling hurt by what happened.”
- Make “I” statements. Part of compassionate communicate is sharing your needs and feelings as well. This is where people can become unstuck and load their statements with unintentional (or intentional) blame. So keep it simple. Keep it about you. “I feel hurt by your actions.” “I only ever had your best interests at heart.” “I am sad that we’re having this fight.”
- Take responsibility for your part. Think of your disagreement as sitting in a bubble between the two of you. It is something that you have created together, but it is separate from you both. Taking this kind of perspective can help you avoid trying to make it someone’s fault. It can also help you realise what role you have played in the argument, which will help you release the need to make it someone’s “fault” and find words of compassion to soothe and heal the situation.
Even if you forget all of these tips, just remember to ask yourself “How can I add more love to this?” It will help you to soften and approach the situation with higher intentions than getting your own back.
I’d love to hear which of these you’re going to put to use straight away, please share in the comments below.
If you, like me, want to live in a world filled with compassion, kindness and personal responsibility, then we need to raise our game when it comes to communication.
And we can do this – one email, one blog post, one heartfelt conversation at a time.
Let’s get to it.
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