Life Coach Magazine

Bloggers 4 Peace: Peaceful Communication!

By Rohan @rohanforsale

family-fightCommunication; its importance simply cannot be understated. Healthy communication = healthy relationships. Poor communication = poor relationships. It’s as simple as that. For one reason or another many of us do not communicate effectively; we speak with attacking, accusatory language in harsh tones, and some of us receive language defensively, always feeling as though we are being assaulted. Many families and partnerships, instead of creating a protective bubble around themselves and focusing their energies outward, actually bicker, snipe, shout and attack each other, completely undermining the peace in the home and greatly reducing the family or couple’s effectiveness as a unit. This is subject is vast; there are hundreds of causative factors for this kind of attacking behavior both biological and cultural, there are also a great number of ways to help bring peace and harmony to the home. But today I’ll be writing about one simple, but (if practiced) highly effective way to improve communication in the home and bring peace to those around you.

First however let’s take a look at this infograph on the rise of anxiety in the United States provided to me by OnlinePsychologyDegree.net. Given the current, and increasing problems, of personal and familial anxiety there has never been a more important time to focus on our communication:

Anxiety Infographic

As you can see anxiety is rife, and I have no doubt that a great deal of that anxiety is developed in the home. It’s not that we mean to do it, it’s simply that we’ve picked up some very bad habits over the years.

family-fighting
When a child or teen comes home from school where they have had to deal with academic pressures, social pressures, and in many cases bullying, they need to feel safe, loved and understood. However this is often not the case. The parents may be just as frazzled coming home for the pressures of their work or home life and instead of regrouping, communicating effectively and making each other feel safe, they take out their frustrations on the other family members themselves.

No single method will solve this problem, however this one technique can do a great deal of good! The technique I’m speaking of is Non Violent Communication which was developed by American psychologist Marshall B Rosenberg. More specifically I’m talking about his Giraffe Ears technique. According to Rosenberg we can both speak and listen in two distinct ways:

black-backed-jackal-20910468

Ready to attack!

* Jackal Speaking/Listening: Jackal communication is attacking by nature. When someone is speaking Jackal they are trying to communicate their own pains and unmet needs through hurtful, accusatory language.  For example one person might say to their partner “You are so selfish, you never have time for me!” Everything depends on the receiver now. If the other person is listening with Jackal ears two things can happen. If the Jackal ears are turned inward the attack will be taken personally, they will think “Yes I am selfish, I’m a real idiot, she’s totally right, I’m such a waste of space”. If the Jackal ears are pointed outward the attack will be taken personally and countered “Oh I’m selfish am I? Well at least I’m not a lazy slob like you!”

This form of communication with simply continue to escalate and the core issues will never be resolved. Unfortunately a great many people use Jackal language when communicating important issues with those close to them, and a great many people use Jackal ears when listening to those close to them. When this is the case those involved are always attacking or feeling under attack!

So what can we do to resolve this situation? The answer is Giraffe ears. The living land animal with the largest heart is the Giraffe, also their long neck enables them to see far and wide, to get a big picture view.

SONY DSC

I can see a lot more from up here!

* Giraffe Speaking/Listening: When listening with Giraffe ears nothing is taken personally. The person using Giraffe ears knows that an attack such as “You are so selfish, you never have time for me!” is an attempt to communicate the speaker’s feelings and unmet wants and needs. When we listen with Jackal ears all we hear are criticisms, attacks and complaints. When we listen with Giraffe ears these attacks are translated into what they really are; feelings, needs and wants. Nothing more. When we listen compassionately with Giraffe ears – when we don’t take it personally and simple listen and reflect back – the issues are resolved quickly and peace is restored.

Let’s use the same example and complete the conversation using Giraffe ears and language.

“You are so selfish, you never have time for me!”

She is using Jackal language, she is flustered and on the verge of tears. He listens with Giraffe ears. He takes a deep breath and he thinks about the underlying unmet need that she has. He then asks.

“Are you feeling sad because we don’t spend more time together?”

“No, that’s not it! I’m not sad, you’re never around when I need you!”

He takes another moment, trying to accurately identify the need.

loving divorce
“Are you feeling scared? Scared that things aren’t okay with us? Do you need me to spend more quality time with you?”

Her demeanor changes, her voice softens.

“Yes, I’m scared. I’m scared that you’ll leave, that you don’t like me anymore.”

She sobs, and they hug. Now that the need has been brought out and understood the two of them can talk about it effectively once everyone is ready. Can you see the difference between this approach when compared with the escalating nature of Jackal communication? The fact is that it’s very difficult to listen seriously to another’s point of view until our own point has been heard and understood. If you want to get your side of the story across you must first of all ensure that the other person is heard. Many of us will simply try to force our point by shouting it louder and longer than the other person but this never works. We must don our Giraffe ears, find the unmet need underlying their attack and repeat it back to them. Show them that we hear and understand their need. Then they are in a much more receptive state to hear and understand your needs and feelings.

In Conclusion!

happy-family
Our immediate relationships, those with people we share our homes and lives with, are so incredibly instrumental to our success or failure in most other aspects of our lives, that we simply cannot ignore them. Compassionate communication will not solve every problem, but it’s a great place to start. If practiced earnestly you will see improvements in your relationships, trust me. So next time you are under attack, take a deep breath, put on your Giraffe ears, don’t take it personally and begin to look for the underlying unmet need of your “attacker”. Speak gently and ask “you are feeling sad/scared/angry/betrayed because you need_____. Is that right?”, if you don’t get what they are feeling correct right away don’t worry, keep trying. Once you get to the bottom of it, once the person feels listened to and understood, you are both on your way to resolving the issue through compassionate, non violent communication!

What techniques do you use when a fight flares up?

Thanks for reading, all the best

:)

Rohan.

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Rohan Healy is the author of “Greeks to Geeks: Practical Stoicism in the 21st Century”, “The 7 Things That Made Me Genuinely & Irreversibly Happy: And How They Can Do The Same For You” and Sci Fi Action/Adventure novel Gyaros: The Mice Eat Iron!

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