Recently I have been exploring the comprehensive and complicated ways in which we communicate. In my quest to better understand and improve communication, one of the biggest issues that came up for me was mutually respectful communication. I’ve learned that respect – both for ourselves and others – deeply affect our everyday communications, whether it is by words, actions, or even our thoughts.
Take Responsibility for your Responses
Sometimes, when we hear comments from others that have a negative affect on us, our first reaction can often be that we feel hurt. And if we feel hurt, we sometimes respond by verbally lashing out ourselves as a way of protection. We can take comments as a personal insult, whether intended or not, and go on to build up a negative story in our heads.
It is all too easy to let ourselves get into a negative frame of mind and imagine all sorts of insults, stemming from one throwaway comment. Often we feel judged, and sometimes react by wanting to retaliate, or retreat and withdraw. All this because of being offended by a single comment, which may not have been what was intended in the first place. It might simply have been the way we heard it, filtered through our own insecurities.
First and foremost, look after yourself!
We are not responsible for other people’s reactions to anything we say or do; as long as we what we say is both caring and respectful. Ultimately, we can only take responsibility for ourselves and it is a foolish path we go down if we end up feeling responsible for how our actions affect others. But I do understand how hard it can be – especially when it is someone close to you. There is, however, a fine balance between taking responsibility for ourselves, and not for others.
Your Needs do Matter
Your needs matter equally as much as others! In fact, more than others, as you cannot look after anyone else if you are not looking after yourself. You need to have compassion for yourself, and try to understand the reasons behind why you feel hurt and not respected in some circumstances. It may be some long held belief or value that you have hung onto and need to let go. There are ways and means you can help yourself. A good starting point is to read Marshall Rosenberg’s excellent book, Non-Violent Communication – A Language of Life.
Some tips on ways to help you deal with difficult situations:
- Don’t attempt to deal with all that comes at you in the moment.
- Take time to really think about how you feel and what your response is.
- Be real – explain that you can’t talk right there and then, that it is really important to you and you want to talk about this once you have had chance to think it through.
- Take time to go through what was said, or requested.
- Find out what your needs are, and remember that you matter.
- Write down your thoughts, and how you want to respond.
- Then go back to the person with your carefully worded, laid out, and thought-through response.
What is Right For You?
Of course there are times when you really do need to give an immediate response, but listen to your own body, your own thoughts and emotions first. At the very least, take a deep breath, calm any unhelpful thoughts, and be real, be yourself, but also nurture and care for yourself. It is not always about making the other person happy, it is also about what feels right for you.
I would love to hear your thoughts on how you communicate and any struggles you have had, let me know if you have any suggestions or guidance for our readers.
Check out more of my Monday Motivation Blogs HERE.
About the Author: Carole Langman works behind the scenes at Bowerland Cottage Holidays and Devon Dogs as the Business Manager. Her office is always a hive of activity, and with the vast amounts of work Carole has, we never really know how she gets through it all! To unwind, she loves gardening, hikes around Bowerland, travelling and writing.