Say what you want to say. If they don’t get it, repeat it louder. Then be sure to say it again. For a lot of people, this is their communication pattern, and what they believe will create what they desire in the world.
Unfortunately, it tends to create just the opposite. People feel ‘battered’ by the onslaught of meaningless, unkind and sometimes violent communication that is running rampant in today. Research shows that when we communicate in this way, even if we do have all the ‘facts and figures,’ our audience feels alienated and likely to become more entrenched in their own perspective. Increasingly we, our colleagues, our friends, and our children, are looking for kinder, more effective interactions.
I advocate a different way of communicating learned through personal experience. My Dad has been ill for a long time and when I was younger, I wanted to ‘heal’ him. While ‘good in theory,’ I came to realize that I could not do for him what he had to do for himself. I became aware that I had to allow my Dad to have his own journey, and experience the life his choices created for him even though this meant long-term psychiatric care. I now understand that this is the greatest kindness that I could be for him and for me.
And this is the foundation of the alternative style of communication I now teach: letting go of wanting to create an outcome; being present in the moment with the others; and being interested in the other person, rather than endeavouring to be ‘interesting.’
If this sounds too abstract, cast your mind back to a meeting where it felt as if everyone was concerned only with being heard, rather than listening. People were speaking louder and louder, repeating themselves, desperately trying to convince others of their viewpoint. As it comes to a close, everyone is left feeling tired, irritable and frustrated for failing to achieve their goals for the meeting.
We can create much more effective dialogue by communicating from a kinder space where those around the meeting table feel included, acknowledged, and that they have a choice. This gives them a space to see what is true for them. Whether or not, in this particular instance, they take on board your ideas or buy your product, they will feel part of a meaningful interaction and perhaps more open to your business the next time.
Kindness is the cornerstone of my approach and here are some tips for making 2018 a kinder year:
- Being space for you and the other person
Often when we are communicating with someone, we have an agenda or we are reacting to some of the things they are saying or doing, and hoping that we can make them change. By being space for the other person, I mean fully listening without reacting, letting go of any agenda and truly being willing to allow the other person to make their own choices.
There is a magic that occurs with communication like this. The other person feels heard, and I believe that one of our greatest desires is to be heard in our viewpoints. It occurs so rarely, and when it does, we feel acknowledged and like we matter in the world.
Paradoxically, this style of communication is more likely to create what we desire, particularly when we let go of desiring any specific outcome.
- Ask questions
Often, we go into a conversation already knowing what we are going to say, how we are going to prove our point and even imagine countering any objections!
A kinder alternative is to ask before a conversation: “What is this person willing to receive?” When you ask that, you will get some awareness and you will find that your words and your behaviour are ‘tailored’ to the other person. Again, this leaves the other person feeling good and sometimes, willing to listen to you!
You can also ask “What can I say that will be kind to both of us?” When you ask this, again you receive some awareness and you only end up sharing what can really contribute to you and the other.
- Remember to include you
We often believe that kindness is only about others. We have to include ourselves, otherwise we end up burned-out, depleted or stressed.
- Be aware of language
We can sometimes inadvertently create something in the other person’s world by a particular word. There is a difference between “I love your idea but we can’t afford it.” and “I love your idea, and at the moment we can’t afford it.” The second leaves the other person feeling heard and acknowledged, whereas the first can make a person feel wrong or defensive.
- Express gratitude
Gratitude is often overlooked or seen as unimportant. If you are willing, for example, to let your employees know when they are doing a great job, you will find they are happier and more likely to continue to do great work.
These are the elements of kindness in communication that I wish I had known all those years ago when I was trying to make my Dad and his life better. Our lives would have been easier.
What if kindness could create more ease and more possibilities with what you desire to create?