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The Healing Art
By Ayal Hurst Much of this information is taken from MarshallRosenburg's wonderful
book, 'Non-Violent Communication.'
Most of us relate
violently to one another, even though we'reunawareof it or may think we're relating adequately: it's how we've been taught to relate for centuries.
is probably the most potent force for good or for harm on the planet. If you use it destructively,
you can do great damage. To be a clean and effective communicator takes practice, so I invite you to take in what you
can in this article and then be gentle with yourself as you grow and learn more.
First of all, what will be presented here may be totally new ways of relating
and communicating for you, so it'll take a lot more time to integrate it fully and be able to use it as well as you might wish to.
a start. Even if you simply use it to communicate differently one time a day, that's a seed for new possibilities in your
life. Be kind and gentle with yourself - give yourself room to grow and know that if you're reading this, it's because you want to grow
and learn lovingcommunication.
Although compassionate communication is vital to our emotional well being and to our very existence, the
art of communication is one of the most difficult arts to master in life, because it's the Art
We communicate with each other via our words, our emotions, our facial gestures, body language and our actions. Most of our communication is non-verbal. We take our cue about the meaning of another's communication only 7% from their words and 93% from their tone of voice.
As you all know,
when speaking to an animal, what you say doesn't matter. What registers and is responded to is the tone.
i.e., the meaning of: "What are you doing?" is totally different when using a gentletone of voice than when using a harsh tone, using the same words: "What ARE you DOING??!!"
With almost all
other arts, it's obvious that to master the skill, you must master the tools. To be come a master communicator, one must learn
to master oneself. Unless you master the tools of becoming aware, your communication will probably not serve you well.
What you will
express to others will be whatever unresolved feelingsor issues you have within you. You'll also miss what they're wanting and trying to share with you.
"In spite of all similarities, every living situation
has, like a newborn child, a new face that has never been before and will never come again. It demands of you a reaction that
cannot be prepared beforehand. It demands nothing of what is past. It demands YOU."
To be a good
communicator, first of all you must show up for the conversation. To have a win-win situation in human relationships, where
both parties come away feeling good, you must be fully present and wanting to connect with the core essence humanity of the other person.
Being more more interested in doing it correctly than in being there for the other person.
Coming from being patronizing or arrogant (oneupmanship).
Wanting to change or correct someone. The belief that we have to fix people or situations or make others feel better will cause you to relate to others in a harmful way - as if they're a specimen. We get dehumanized by derogatory
images of others or thoughts of wrongness about ourselves.
The great poet
and mystic, Rumi, said:
"Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing,
there is a field. I'll meet you there."
Ask yourself before
you respond to someone where you're starting to come from. If you're coming from a belief in wrongdoing or rightdoing, from needing to fix or blame someone... then think again. The interaction you'll have will be a form of violent communication. What stops us from being present: (see which of these you do...)
Advising - "I think you should...." "How come you didn't....?"
One upping - (impatience) "That's nothing! wait till you hear......"
Explaining - "I would have called but...." (putting your "but" in someone's face never works).
Correcting - "That's not how it happened. It was like this......"
In relating to
others, it's never the behavior of another person causing us to feel angry, or unkind, or blaming - it's our own unmet needs. We can identify the other person's behavior as the stimulus for our upset, but it's not the cause.
We've had role models of being rejected, so we do the same thing to ourselves and we pass it on to our children or partners, etc. People are terrified
of rejection and no one wants to be seen as bad or doing something wrong.
angry stage where we realize we're not and we assert ourselves but in a way that doesn't respect others (that's your problem! I'm not responsible for your needs, etc.). Not caring about how we effect others or their needs.
The use of moralistic judgments that imply wrongness or badness on the part of people who don't act in harmony with our judgments. Take a look at your language.
Do you use phrases such as:
"The problem with you is _______ ."
"Why did you do it that way?"
"She's ____such and such."
"It's inappropriate when you ______ ."
"Don't you know that ________!?"
What makes a person want to criticize or blame? They're not finding a way to get their needs met that works.
What do you think is going on when someone responds to another in this way? Once again, it's a belief that people deserve to be punished = that people are bad or evil.
It primarily comes from a belief that you yourself think you're bad or inadequate and deserve to be punished.
Comparisons are a form of judgment and result in making your life, or others, miserable. Blaming, labels, criticism, put downs, insults, comparisons and diagnoses are all forms of judgment.
If you want a compassionate response back, if you want someone to be on your side and able to hear what you would like to share, or would
like them to meet a need that you have, it's self defeating to blame them, shame them, criticize them, or interpret or diagnose their behavior.
Someone who feels the need to defend themselves against you will not be someone you can easily talk to or make requests of.
once remarked that observing without evaluating is the highest form of human intelligence.
the difference between an evaluation and an observation?
An observation is simply
noting a fact without drama, judgment, putting a spin on it, or having your own hidden agenda in there. Here is X and you're simply noting one's relationship to X, or the facts of the matter.
Observations are to be made with specifics of time
and contest. It's noting factually what just happened in this moment - it's not making comments to the effect of what someone
"always" does, or "never" does, or how someone "always" is, or "never" is.
An evaluation is your own judgment of what's going on. Opinions are like assholes (*sorry!) - everybody's got one.
And an evaluation or judgment you make is likely to change at any moment. When we combine observation with evaluation, people are apt to hear
Have you ever evaluated someone negatively and then had it turned around on you when that person did something loving the next moment?
It's a waste of life energy, actually, to evaluate
because it will change in a moment. Making an evaluation is an impersonal way of communicating that's a way to hide the authentic
feelings YOU are having.
It's also language with violence in it vs. the language
just never arrives on time. She is so thoughtless!"
Sally arrived a few minutes
Another example would be making this statement, an evaluation:
expressing it in this way, stating one's own feelings about a matter:
"What I would
really like to hear from you right now is this..." -
then you are not
blaming someone else for what you are feeling. That way they are safe with you.
You can also help another to be safe with you
when you are in an upset by saying:
"I am aware that
I am feeling ______ right now, but it has nothing to do with you. It's my stuff."
It is easy, often, to feel badly about yourself, or feel badly about something and take it out on another. We
tend to think that if the other person were different, we'd feel OK. This is never true. We ourselves choose how to respond
to any given thing in life. We are not victims.
How would one express feelings in these sentences?
you're blaming and shaming. Those are "you" comments and "you" comments are usually always critical and violating. "You" comments damage a person's spirit and sense of themselves. And, "you" comments damage their ability to trust you.
They also make you the "victim."
When you speak from the "I" place, you gain a deeper
sense of inner strength. You stand in your Power, because you're taking responsibility for what's going on for you.
You accept that no one "did it to you" and that you're responsible
for how you choose to feel. When you speak from the "I" place, because you're aware of what's going on for you, your communication
is apt to be less charged with blaming others or with your own unconscious emotions.
Then you're less caught up in the emotion you're feeling or in
the situation itself. You'll be able to simply express what's going on. You'll find yourself speaking more factually, calmly and reasonably and people will be able to hear what you have to say instead of wanting to get away from your unpleasant innuendos
(blame or shame) or distressing emotions.
When you speak from the "I" place, you release the need to control, direct, convince, or manipulate others. You're simply, factually expressing and sharing how it is for you, how
you feel and think.
And it's OK that everyone's Truth will be different. When we speak our truth calmly, from the "I" place, we avoid the pitfall of making someone else wrong,
or trying to convince anyone of anything.
Sensing our own feelings and needs and coming from the "I" place - shine light of consciousness on oneself: "I realize I feel _______ when you ______ ."
Sensing the other's
feelings and needs: "Are you feeling _______?" - shine the light of consciousness on it.
Requests vs. Demands
Requests are received as demands when others believe that they will be punished or blamed if they don't comply. To tell if it's a demand or a request, observe what the speaker does if the request isn't complied
with. If it's a demand, the speaker then criticizes or judges.
There's a wonderful expression that speaks eloquently about how people feel when
a demand is put out to them. It goes like this:
"All I know is I feel won't, when I'm told
to do a don't"
are 2 options to receiving a demand - neither works to allow you to have a good relationship with another:
1) submission or 2) rebellion
Laying a guilt trip on another can be couched in all sorts of ways. If guilt is involved, then requests are heard as demands. If you've felt
that you'll be blamed or punished if you don't comply with doing what others want you to do - it'simportant
to get an understanding of what dynamics are going on so that you not will relate in that the same way to others.
Example of a conversation between Jack & Jane:
Jack: "I'm lonely and want you to spend the night with me."
She: "I'm tired."
He: "How selfish of you," or "If you knew how lonely I was feeling, you'd stay."
Either of his responses is a guilt trip put on her. Therefore,
he was not requesting her to stay, but actually putting out a demand that she stay, as he did not allow her the right to refuse
without blaming her or making her guilty.
He wasn't compassionate toward her needs, but instead interpreted her needs , her no, as a rejection.
A demand isn't a compassionate communication.
we interpret noncompliance with rejection, then our requests will be heard as demands.
"Would you be willing to ______?"
"Do this," or "I want you to do this,"
shows we're requesting, not demanding, if we allow the answer
to be a no without then blaming the other for their response.
Empathy is a respectfulunderstanding of what others are experiencing. It's listening with the whole being. Being with someone - not looking at them to see if
they fit into our theories or shoulds. We're fully present and we give to others the time and space they need to express themselves fully and to be understood.
Empathy can only occur when we've successfully shed all preconceived ideas and judgments about the other person. There's
a Buddhist statement that aptly describes this ability:
"Don't just do something. Stand there."
The more we empathize with the other party, the safer we feel
and the more they'll then be able to empathize with us when we choose to share.
If you feel angry, humiliated, taken advantage of etc. when listening or conversing with another, you may need to withdraw physically, scream silently, or take time out to give yourself empathy before returning to the conversation.
Giving oneself empathy = discover the needs that have been powerfully triggered: finding out what you, yourself, are needing and wanting and giving compassion and understanding to yourself.
A compassionate response to this statement: "I feel as ugly as a pig!" for instance, might be: "Are you feeling disappointed with your appearance today?"
No matter what others say, we're only hearing what they are:
If you hurry the process and don't stay in empathy, what do you
think will be the result?
Empathy allows people to touch deeper levels within themselves, release emotional pain and blockages and then move on. Usually they're
able to solve the problem once they've been fully heard and have expressed themselves fully.
know the speaker has received adequate empathy when:
is a visible or audible relief of tension
agreement: "Yes! Exactly!"
flow of words comes to a halt. If you're not sure they're done - you can say: "Is there more you wanted to say?"
If we find ourselves unwilling or unable to give empathy, despite our best efforts, it is because we're starved for empathy ourselves. For example on a plane, to
offer oxygen to others one must give oneself oxygen first.
If we become skilled in giving ourselves empathy, we can experience
a release of energy that then allows us to be present for others. Or, we can let another know what is going for us and we
may get from them the empathy we need to then be able to give back to them.
If we're able to speak our distress nakedly and without blame, then even people in pain or their own distress are able to hear our need. Ask for the love you need honestly.
All criticism, attack, insults and judgments vanish when we focus attention
on hearing the feelings and needs behind a message. An individual with an unmet need is what it's all about. They're appealing to us to contribute to their well being and through listening with compassion, we do that for them.
Any conversation is a opportunity to give love to
people, if you hear what people are needing:
This = not taking it personally and seeing the other's
need without judgment.
Reflect back to them that you fully understood and heard them by paraphrasing what they said or what we understood them to say. Ask it in the form of a question:
"Are you feeling ______ because you would like _______?"
When we paraphrase,
the tones of voice we use are highly important. When a person hears themselves reflected back, they're likely to be highly sensitive to the slightest hint of criticism or sarcasm.
negatively affected by a declarative tone that implies that we're telling them what's going on for them. The Appropriate Tone is one
that lets them know that we're genuinely interested and one which is asking whether we have understood them correctly - it's not a tone claiming that we HAVE understood.
is another word for paraphrasing. It's a way of fully being present with another person. When you mirror someone, what you're actually doing is turning yourself into a mirror. You do this
to let them know that you've really heard, or "gotten", what they have communicated.
you reflect back to the other person what they've shared. This is accomplished by repeating what they've said in the form of a question, to see if you got it right, to see if you really understood what they're wanting to get across to you.
to do this in a sincere way - letting them know by your tone that you are truly connected and interested, that you understand what they're saying - that you "get it".
When that occurs,
you both have shared a true moment of intimacy and connection. Nothing feels better.
People can feel a fake mirroring, however - one that really doesn't care about what they're saying. Watch out for not truly being present with another. That will feel very yucky and cause harm.
Some forms of mirroring may start out like this:
"If I'm hearing you
right, you're letting me know that you ..... , is that right?"
"You want me to understand that ........, is that right?"
"You're letting me know
that when ..... happened, you felt......, yes?"
"You were really upset
when.... you must have felt .....?"
A great tool when
you don't know what to say, to mirror someone, is to say this: "If I were to say exactly what you wanted me to say right now,
what would it be?"
When you mirror, you're making no judgment calls on what is being shared. You're just there to get their experience, to get whatever it is they're trying to share.
no "you're right or wrong" or advice put out to someone in mirroring. It's a powerful way to let them know that you've understood their experience, you understood how something felt to them, you understand what they just went through, or what they thought about something.
You don't bring
your feelings, or stories, or memories, or side comments about yourself into it. What you look for is - are they feelingangry, sad, fearful, or happy about their experience?
Do they like or
What are they
trying to accomplish by sharing the information with you?
If you have done
a good job of mirroring, you'll get a response like:
"Yes! That's it!! Exactly!" or
"You got it!"
If you get a "no,
that's not it", or a hesitation of some sort, they'll usually explain it again. So you try again. If you can't be a good mirror
at some point, kindly let the person know that you'd like to hear what they're saying, but you're unable to at that moment.
People need to get emptied out of what they're feeling. If they don't, they can get so full that they explode, or they may feel lost in some way and unable to move forward in their life. If you give them the space to get it out and be "mirrored," they'll naturally heal, be able
figure it out for themselves and move on.
You'll find that if you mirror, even if someone is
totally upset and off center, they'll be able to regain clarity very soon. Sometimes the change is miraculous. The more they open and share, the more intense it gets, the more you mirror.
Remember - we
all just want to be truly understood when we share. We all want this. It's a basic human need for good psychological health.
What about people who don't answer back - what's going on for them?
Often they have
withdrawn from the conversation out of a fear of doing it wrong. What would you say to them? You can Mirror them or future pace them. (See future pacing information at the end of this article).
See how well you can paraphrase these
"You're a fool
for trusting a total stranger!" "You never hear me!" "You doubt me all the time!"
"Are you reacting
to ________?" "Are you feeling because you would have liked _________?" "Are you wanting me to tell you my reasons for ________?"
Hooking Others (Includes discounting, or putting others down)
7% of what a person
takes from what you said comes from your words.
93% comes from your
tone of voice.
If you put out
an unfair or nasty feeling, tone, or comment to another, you're hooking them. You're "zinging" them, or getting in a verbal punch to the gut.
If you do this,
the other person will feel bad, blamed, or shamed in some way (unless they've
learned to mirror and not take it personally!)
They may not even know why they feel bad, because hooking is an underhanded, covert and often unconscious thing.
But the conversation
and any connection with them, will be over at that point.
Often, when people hook, they're not in touch with what they're really feeling. They'll let their unexpressed anger or upset out in a way that hurts another, is sarcastic, or unfair.
When people do this,
they're not owning or aware of their own stuff. They may say something like: "I was only teasing you. Why are you so upset
But what they
have actually done was hit below the belt. Hooking usually comes when you least expect it. That way the person has made sure
that you won't confront them, that you'll be taken aback and knocked off center.
occurs when someone is trying to regain a sense of power, but does it unfairly. Or, it can occur if they themselves have felt hurt but don't know how to express it cleanly.
can be expressed through a contemptuous sound or gesture; it can be expressed by simply shaking your head, or rolling your
eyes, or turning away with a look on your face.
It can be expressed
by a sarcastic comment, such as "Yeah, right".
Be aware if you hook another. You can do this by
being aware of what's really going on for you. Hooking is a nasty, underhanded, unsafe and unclean way to communicate.
Instead of giving another a negative message, you can:
See Someone's B &
P - Their Brilliance and PurposeWhat you want to reflect back to a person is their highest intention: what their soul is trying
to learn, to create, share, or experience.
All thoughts, actions and feelings come from wanting to do good in some way - to share love in one form or another. Even if what someone is doing appears distorted,
or seems frustrating to you - the need to experience or share love or do something good is behind it, if you look closely enough.
That's what you look for: you mirror or reflect back to them their brilliance and purpose. Ask yourself, when mirroring,
what is their B & P here? What are they trying to accomplish? When you do this, a person will walk away from your communication feeling wonderful, validated and totally uplifted.
Your own stuff - getting hooked
If you find yourself
hooked, it means that somewhere during the conversation, you got pulled in or triggered by the other person's energy, by their
upset feelings, or by something that was said.
This means that
you probably have something going on inside of you, an issue or an upset, which matches, or is similar to the upset of the
person you're mirroring.
Your own wound or upset rises to the surface and gets rubbed, so to speak. If that happens and you retaliate or withdraw in some way, that
is an invasion of your stuff into the other person's process and space.
If you get hooked,
you can't be present, real, kind, or connected. If this happens, do your best to catch it and own it. If you're too charged to be a good communicator excuse yourself from
the conversation by being honest about what's going on for you.
You can later check inside yourself to find out what it
is - if you do, you'll learn something about yourself.
not what the other person does, but the images and interpretations in our own head that produce anger.
When our heads are filled with judgments about someone, they'll most likely not be very interested in our needs. Then we have severely impaired our chances of getting the result we were looking for.
The more we hear
them, the more they'll hear us. If you blame me, you've lost me. When we hear the other person's feelings and pain, we recognize our common humanity.We also want them to hear our feelings and pain.
each judgment into an unmet need.
relate to someone, ask yourself: "Is the strategy I'm using going to get me the results I'm looking for?"
4 steps to expressingAnger: Give yourself empathy first before responding
When you're a
mirror, you're protected from taking on anything someone says in a personal way. This is because you're standing behind the mirror, in a sense. You're
only there to reflect them. It's not about you. Nothing they say has anything to do with you.
It only has to
do with how they're feeling about something that they have experienced in their life. You can't cause a person to feel something. Nor can anyone cause
you to feel something. Each of us chooses to have a feeling, or a response, to whatever we come into contact with in our life.
from inside of us, not from anything that happens on the outside.
If you do find yourself taking
it personally, feeling upset or responsible in some way for someone's feelings, or caught up emotionally in what they've shared, you've gotten "hooked" and you'll feel guilty, blamed and upset.
If you find yourself beginning to get hooked, or if you feel confused, you can do what is called a reality check. Tell them you need to check out what is being said, because your mind is telling you that it's your fault or that you did something wrong.
Or maybe you simply
don't understand what's being said. You're needing to check it out to see if they're meaning it the way you're taking it. "I need to do a reality check here. My mind is telling me that..... is that true?
Or, "I'm hearing you say this. Is that what you mean?"
Then you get clear. The mind can often trick us into hearing things a certain way due to our own issues.
For clean communication, make every effort not to make comments about another in an offhand way or behind their back. Avoid comments like "Can you believe so and so did this?!" Even if a person doesn't hear this comment directly, they'll feel the energy of it.
And it'll distort
the relationship and your ability to communicate or relate with them cleanly after that. If you have some upset with someone, or want to say anything at all about them, it's
best to do it only if they are present.
Use the above communication tools and express it to them directly in an honest, responsible and non-blaming way. It's better to first figure out what is bothering you and why, that way diffusing your need to voice comments about another.
is an effective communication tool to let another person know what will be happening, or what they can expect. It prepares them for what's coming up. You can also use it to let another know what you'd like to see happen, or what you'd
like from them.
example: "We'll be getting in the car in a few minutes
and I'm aware that we may be feeling tense about being on time. Can we agree to let it be OK that we're running a little late?"
"On the walk tomorrow, you may find that there will be some steep places.
If you have any concern about this, would you be willing to let me know?"
"I'd just like you to be aware that I'm feeling.... right now, so I may not be able to ....".
Future pacing allows you to set things up so that they'll work out in a harmonious
way. It also honors another, as it gives them the opportunity to know what to expect, to be prepared ahead of time for a given situation and to work in cooperation with you.
It lets them know
that you care about their well being enough to create a sense of safety for them. It allows them to handle what may happen with dignity and calm, as they are forewarned.
All of us,
from time to time, unwittingly blend our opinions or feelings with the facts and consider the resulting viewpoint to be the actual fact. You may think, i.e., that you're discussing the facts of a situation when you're actually talking about your own imagined version of the
Although feelings can provide important and useful information, sometimes they give inaccurate or exaggerated information. In
any situation, i.e., there are objective facts unaltered by personal opinion or feeling as well as subjective opinions and feelings.
When you have
a strong feeling (afeelingthat all is well or all is lost)
it's tempting to believe that the feeling itself accurately reflects reality. Sometimes, of course, what you feel is consistent with the facts of reality.
At other times, however, what you feel may not be supported by the facts. In other words, feelings aren't necessarily related to reality.
Unlike a camera,
your mind can add opinions, assumptions and feelings to the facts creating a customized picture - whether accurate or not - of any given situation. This is natural and healthy
as long as the opinions and feelings aren't thought of as the objective facts.
There are two
ways of dealing with feelings that produce a distorted picture. At one extreme is the person who
ignores his feelings altogether; at the other extreme is the person who excessively dwells
on his feelings.
can go through the motions of life while ignoring some or all of your emotions, you'll be at a disadvantage. If you attempt to ignoreemotional pain, i.e. you'll likewise have difficulty being sensitive to pleasure.
Ignoringemotion also causes you to miss out on important information about yourself and your environment, making it difficult
to think objectively, make reasonable decisions, or effectively communicate.
on the information provided by your emotions is like driving a car without paying attention to the instruments.
You can still drive, but you're apt to make little mistakes like occasionally driving too fast, running out of gas or overheating
essential emotional information you're apt to make mistakes or get stuck while attempting to solve
personal and relationship problems.
Some people,unaware of their feelings, mistakenly consider themselves highly rational. Such
individuals often appear impeccably calm and smooth. Nothing seems to upset them.
If you're married
to someone like that and you're aware of your own normal emotional ups and downs, you (and he) may mistakenly view him as calm and yourself as volatile.
outer appearances, the so-called "rational" man often has difficulty distinguishing facts from feelings because he's unawarethat there is any difference between the two.
i.e.,When Bill walked through the front door, Sharon knew he was upset. Bill, however, considered himself calm and rational. Actually Bill
was upset about
work but hadn't yet recognized that fact. When Sharon
asked him how he was, he responded sincerely, "Fine."
around the house Bill launched into a tirade about how messy it was even though it
was reasonably tidy. Because Bill wasunaware
of his feelingsabout work, he had difficulty seeing that the house was neat and that the problem lay within his own unrecognized feelings. His opinions were being affected by feelings he didn't admit he had.
Point:The truly rational person is aware of his feelings as clearly as he is aware of the facts in a situation.
are so aware of and involved with their feelings that they lose sight of what the facts are and whether or not their
feelings are supported by the facts.
tend to base their opinions and decisions on how they feel, often without considering all of the facts in the situation.
To them, what they feel represents what is real.
to reason or communicate with someone who believes that what they feel determines what's real is an exercise in frustration. They tend to give their feelings more credibility than the facts, regardless of how much evidence you give them.
i.e.,although Norm and Sue are living beyond their means, when Normfeels they can afford a new
car, financial facts can't convince him otherwise. Since he feels good about the purchase, he "reasons," it must be all right.
Caution: Even though feelings don't change facts, dwelling on feelings inconsistent with the facts creates the illusion that the feelings, nevertheless, represent truth and fact.
3.Practice distinguishing feelings from facts in 3 important areas of your life: Your identity ("I
am" vs."I feel I am"), your
activities ("I do" vs."I feel I do") and your possessions ("I have" vs."I feel I have"). It helps to take a piece of paper and draw a line vertically down the center. List
your feelings on the left side and the facts on the right side.
4. When there's a discrepancy
between the facts and your feelings, you're usually better off acting on the facts rather than on your feelings. Emotions are usually not as reliable as the facts, since emotions can fluctuate independently of the current situation because of flashbacks from the past, exaggerated thoughts about the present or future, or insufficient information.