Listen! Don’t just tell me what to do!
We have all probably had a conversation where we were longing to be listened to but were never heard. Instead we got advise on what to do, how good or bad we are and how the future looks happy or bleak. Indeed, it would be close to the truth to say that this is a chronic problem in our usual communication. Judgments, criticisms, advise, demands, evaluations – this seems the nature of our daily conversations. Is this problem only to the people we talk to? No! Unfortunately, this is also how we talk to our own selves. I am fat, I have pimples, I don’t do well in exams – such self critical messages.
Let’s Stop! Right Now!
Let us sit down and give ourselves and others the gift of understanding. The gift of empathic listening. We really need to grow our inner child with care and love.
One way to do this would be using a tool called Compassionate Communication. Also called the non-violent communication technique, the father of this movement has been Dr. Marshall Rosenberg from the USA. The technique analyses our conversations in a simple and rational way and suggests a 4-step approach to modifying our talk. Once we are aware of these steps and practice some learning of them, we can then move on to dialogues. Compassionate communication sees dialogues as a process symbolized by an inverted eight – ∞. One person talks and the other receives with empathy. Then the other talks and the first one receives the talk with empathy and understanding. Yes, this also needs practice. Currently, we seem to be in a place where neither person in a dialogue listens . Instead , both seem to wait for the other to stop talking to start their own story. A smooth flowing empathic conversation seems from the utopia.
The inspiration for all this seems to be the realization that all the people in the planet have the same feelings of anger, sadness, happiness etc. We all also seem to have the same universal needs of love, safety , respect and more. Empathy with the people we have an issue with is possible if we step back and seem the humanness in them. Compassionate communication gives us a quick connect to that humaneness. So it becomes immensely practical for our day to day lives, where building relationships with family and at work is of utmost importance to our progress. Since we get a clearer understanding of our own motivations and others motivations, we also get more choices in situations where we feel stuck.
One main area of concern is how we deal with children. In these times of board examinations and results, there can be much fear, anticipation and possibility of disappointment around the home and school environment. Compassionate communication is a great way for parents and teachers to connect with the child to lower emotional stress as well as to help the grow to its full potential.
Let us brew a coffee and sit down for a heart to heart talk!
To learn more on this methods, useful literature is available on the website of the Center of Nonviolent Communication (Www.cnvc.org). The author is also available for information or personal sessions.