Why is it so difficult to communicate kindly and clearly with your loved ones?
Holidays are great right? Not always! Communication issues can be very draining during the Holidays. People are complicated and they draw different conclusions from the same event after hearing the same words. Just ask your children or siblings to tell stories of the past and you might think, “Wow did we grow up in the same households?”
It is all a matter of perspective. I was reminded of this fact as I navigated conversations during the holidays. Let me explain. In the past few weeks, I have had several very difficult conversations with people I love. I believed I was doing and saying the right thing, but it was interpreted completely differently than I meant it. Has this ever happened to you? My words and intentions left my mouth one way and entered someone’s ears and nervous system in a different way. When the other person lashed out at me, I was completely taken off guard. “What did I do wrong?” I asked myself. I had mistakenly believed I had anticipated all possible outcomes, but in many cases, I hadn’t.
When I feel attacked, my first instinct is to want to defend myself. In many cases, that involves writing a long-drawn-out response. I have learned to re-read it but before sending it, if I am thinking clearly enough, I share it with my husband. In most cases, he advises me to not send it because as he puts it, “you are adding fuel to the fire.” He is right of course.
I understand now after many years of living and studying human behavior, most people including myself get locked into their point of view and their hurts and their beliefs and it is only through their own personal growth and healing do they stop taking things and words so personally. My dear friend, Shantell reminded me of The Four Agreements, a famous and profound book written by Don Miguel Ruiz.
What has helped me gain perspective is practicing HeartMath tools. One, in particular, is focused on reducing drama and avoiding miscommunication through Heart-focused listening. It is called Coherent Communication. Here is a very short video I made teaching the simple tools to teachers during this past semester. Try it and see if it helps dimmish communication issues and the angst that follows the drama of miscommunication. Please let me know if it helps.
Will this avoid all communication issues?
Probably not! However, it will profoundly change your awareness of the issues and allow you to have more compassionate latitude to yourself and to those with who you are attempting to have a relationship. As Rumi so profoundly wrote hundreds of years ago….