I wonder if you can remember a time when you were in an argument with your spouse, a friend or neighbour? Perhaps there was there a disagreement and you’re still smarting? What do you do when you’re unhappy? Do you pout? Or shout? Or go into your cave? (I’ve done all the above!) You might too.
Most of us at some time or other feel uncomfortable to speak our minds but instead become passive, but then as the pressure builds, unfortunately it may lead to some sort of explosive retort, in turn leading to escalating tension.
If you do let loose with what you’re feeling, you might think ‘good I told them a thing or two that they needed to hear’ but unfortunately this continues the cycle of defend/attack debating. Know what I’m talking about?
May I suggest that there are better ways to get your message across, truthfully and in love with compassion for others, whilst also being honest about your own feelings and needs?
To do this there are four things I like to remember. Learning a new process of communicating might take you a little while (it has me) but I’m finding that it’s worth the time and effort.
The four components of compassionate communication that help me remember easily how to deliver non-accusingly are: feel, event, need and request.
Jesus spoke truth and still speaks truth to us but at the same time He is always loving, compassionate and kind as He brings correction. As Christians which means 'little Christs', we can endeavour to emulate His loving way of speaking the truth in love. At times you and I really do need to say some hard things in love to people and if we firstly construct it — in other words by writing it down and practicing it before delivery, when we can think clearly, it makes a whole lot of difference.
It’s much better not to speak when stressed as the stress hormones are raging and it’s almost impossible to think clearly, let alone speak coherently. It can come across in a more caring way if we bring a somewhat practised spiel and this will help us be more relaxed about it too.
May I remind you at this point that if you are stressed now, then please check out how to be peaceful, relaxed and ready for those tough discussions by checking out 'De-stress God’s Way' to find out how to get practical help with stress, for any reason or in any relationship.
I had a sort of difficult conversation with my husband.
We have one wall mounted toothbrush/toothpaste holder in our new home and I like everything in its place, looking nice. We have two different toothpastes and I have one toothbrush and my husband has four. Yes four! All important for his sensitive teeth. Each time I would get my toothbrush or toothpaste out of the holder, other toothbrushes and toothpaste would all fall out because there just isn’t enough room. This has gone on for a long time so finally I wrote out what I wanted to say and it sounded something like this: Darling, I feel frustrated when each time I take out my toothbrush, others fall out and then I have to replace them. (The feel and the event). What I need is more space, (bringing my need clearly to him) so could you to do something with the other three, maybe keep them in the shower please? (a clear request).
There is no coercion in this discussion. He had a choice without blame or anger. Then I looked at him. He looked at me. He knew what I was doing because he knows that I’ve been practising and learning this new technique and he just said ‘no’. I laughed because there is no pressure in this communication method to force others. Back to the drawing board? I had to regroup and think of another way of bringing this to him. As I was thoughtfully considering what to do next, three toothbrushes disappeared a few days later and have never been seen since. LOL! Obviously, he had to think about it a bit.
If you have an issue like toothbrushes or heating or bigger issues, would you like to try it? If so remember to speak to the Lord about any personal heart issues that might need addressing first, then if it seems like you have the go-ahead, in a relaxed frame of mind, without recrimination or judgment construct your wording according to:
feel – event – need – request, practice, relax and bring your truth with love.
Need to be relaxed to bring that conversation? 'De-stress God’s Way' could help you get practical strategies. Fortnightly De-stress God's Way online group coaching for ways to be peaceful about your relationships and conversations.
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 Nonviolent Communication, by Marshall Rosenberg, 2015.