How to Communicate to Benefit YOU
Communication is the key to a successful relationship with YOURSELF, whether that be with your significant other, friends, co-workers, or even strangers. I mean think about it, there are so many emotional attachments with any social interactions we encounter.
Our brains are initially wired to think negatively due to evolution. The amygdala is part of the temporal lobe that is responsible for the fight or flight reaction. When we are experiencing something that may be a threat; that information is immediately sent to our amygdala. For instance, if you come across a big grizzly bear your brain is either going to process that as: “let’s fucking fight bear” OR “oh shit I need to run!”
The brain works day and night to make our behavior consistent to protect us from external dangers in the world. However, a lot of our decision making comes from the deep trenches of our subconscious mind. Everything that our subconscious mind has absorbed was learned when we were children. So events that trigger us come from a belief we were taught and we communicate our feelings through our emotional actions...(This topic is a whole other article.)
If we don’t communicate our needs, discomfort or aspirations the other person in the relationship will not understand your perspective. They can only assume or not be aware that there is something to acknowledge.
I visited San Diego to attend this workshop. There I met Dr. Green.
Now, Dr. Green was a little man with a blunt personality. He was like Yoda. He experienced a lot and had a lot of knowledge to share. He was direct but correct.
When I was driving down for that workshop I had no idea what to fucking expect. Dr. Green has been doing this practice over 40 years professionally. His whole message in class was finding your holism with your body, mind, and emotions.
It's really hard to explain how vulnerable that experience was for me. I really did not go in with the mindset to find my true purpose or looking for my calling in life. I knew I needed to self-care. It wasn't until after the workshop was over I really realized how lost I really felt with myself. I guess what I am trying to say is that I lacked compassion for myself, so I wasn't really appreciating life and the relationships truly. It really proved to me how I was living my life based on negative learned behaviors from my past.
Since that workshop, I have been trying my best to actively practice compassion communication in my relationships. Compassion communication is the skillset to consciously react to a situation with an open-non-aggressive approach.
There are several steps to communicating with compassion: acknowledge, validate, and emphasize.
Before you begin the conversation if you can’t be neutral and calm starting this step, remove yourself from the environment: go for a walk, go take several deep breaths. This will help with the anxiety or anger that may be building up.
SELF REGULATE FIRST!!
Now, after you have checked in with your emotions. The first step of compassion communication is to acknowledge the factual details. What happened at that moment? What was the experience you had with this person? You want to acknowledge the action that took place and what your reaction was to that. This is your chance to communicate with the person that this was meaningful to you so you want to be clear. You want to identify and express the emotion. No story, no bullshit just the emotion you felt.
When we met for dinner last night and said “You are always late” I felt angry and disappointed.
Next, you want to validate their values. The other person needs to know that you understand their perspective as well.
I get how important being on time is to you.
Then allow yourself to empathize with the underlying thought that triggered the emotion you are feeling. The belief is your belief about yourself. Connect with the internal belief, identify with the emotional response you are having.
However, I believe I have to perform well in order to receive your approval as a friend.
You want to express the unmet need for your own well-being and empathize with the other person's feelings.
I get that my tardiness makes you disappointed and I need to be aware of my time-management, but I need to trust that our friendship won't fall apart.
Now, this isn’t to be selfish and only about you. After all, if you do care about the person and the situation you need to be open to hearing their perspective as well. This is to allow yourself to approach a situation getting straight to the point. NO BULLSHIT. I have practice this method in my relationships and it amazes me how the energy of the conversation shifts. The other person is more inclined to be open and mindful of their feelings. You'd be surprised how much you learn from the person and their perspective as well.
Keep me posted if you guys use this approach to communicate your viewpoint. We all want our feelings to be validated, but it’s how we approach the situation that makes all the difference.
Written by Felicia Harder, @FeliciaHarder