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  • Writer's pictureJo Wildsmith

COMPASSIONATE COMMUNICATION


When we think about communication, what does it mean to communicate well? Do we feel heard and seen? Are we able to easily communicate our needs? Can we identify and understand our children's needs? Or do we misread what is not being said, ending up in defiance, frustration, agitation and disconnect.


Non violent communication (NVC), or compassionate communication, is an approach that really enhances our ability to connect within our relationships without judgements, coercion and retribution in order to have our needs met. The methodology is based on humanistic psychology. This approach in communication is understood through basic human needs and feelings. Universally all humans have needs that need to be met. It may be a need for appreciation, respect, peace, compassions, belonging to name but a few, and when our needs are not met we may feel anxious, irritated, resentful, overwhelmed or angry. Feelings tend to originate from whether or not we perceive our needs to be fulfilled, met or satisfied. For example, when our need for safety is met, we may feel relaxed, when our need for safety is unmet we may feel vulnerable. When we can identify the unmet need we can take a proactive approach to ensure constructive action in fulfilling the deficit. It becomes more difficult to decipher our needs when met with our own judgements, negative self talk or blame of others. This language of disconnect can really derail our attempts to have our needs met. For example 'I'm so stupid, nobody likes me anyway, they don't care'. These judgements sabotage our efforts and creates distance in our relationships with ourselves and each other. To address these judgements takes a conscious effort and lots of practice.

NVC teaches us to understand the needs underlying judgments so that we can translate them. As you give yourself some empathy in relation to those needs, your energy begins to shift as you feel more connected to yourself. From this place of self connection, you start to make more effective choices, rather than being in an emotionally reactive state. This simple yet powerful approach focuses on self responsibility of our own thoughts, feelings, needs and actions. As human needs exist in all of us regardless of cultural background or geographical location, this approach is applicable for all, with the overarching goal being interpersonal harmony and knowledge for future cooperation. This approach generates more compassion and harmony within our relationships, our homes and within our community's, it is simple, but not easy.

So how do we apply this to our children? How do we open up our channels of communication and read those unspoken emotions and hidden needs? How to we connect in a way that supports openness and not shutdown or defiance? How about starting with our internal check in, are we in a calm connective state to begin with? What is our body language suggesting? And then we start to think about the language we are using. When we see siblings fighting we might jump in and say 'its wrong to hit your brother', which will probably cause friction,, defence, attack, as it comes from a place of judgment. What if we tried that again, but this time we change the language. Firstly we connect to our own feeling, which may be one of fear at seeing this violence, and then we connect to our internal need which maybe a need for everyone in the family to be safe. So we might say, 'it scares me when you hit your brother as I really need us all to feel safe in our home'. This statement comes from a place of connection, warmth, openness and compassion. No one is being judged, we have no idea what the other sibling may have done to cause the violent reaction. In this moment of distress, we want to offer our children our presence, our empathy and compassion, and we want them to feel heard and understood. This is easier said than done as we, as parents, have this knee jerk reaction to jump in and fix, and resolve and advise which makes this process even more challenging as we go against what we have been habitually trained to do. We have to give ourselves the same level of compassion and empathy that we give to others as we learn to pause, breath and get in touch with our own feelings and needs to make this transformative step into a more compassionate connective life.

For more information or training on this fascinating approach, please do get in touch and see how we can create a more compassionate and harmonious world.


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