"What You Can't Communicate Controls You." When I first heard that edict year ago, I instantly recognized how true that was for me.
In difficult communications I could never find the right words and found myself thrown around by my anxiety around conflict, namely my need to be liked and my desire to do as little harm as possible.
Often my communications would err on the side of not being truthful and sucking up some hurt or would boil over in frustration or anger, resulting in a much more complicated mess. I erred on the side of not even trying and felt amazingly confined and bottled up.
Then I learned some models for communication that helped me speak with less blame and more ownership of my experience and I could feel my heart flowing again.
The Buddha taught extensively on Skillful Speech.
A quick summary:
1. Be kind
2. Tell the truth
3. Be aware of how the other person is listening and
4. Be timely
These guidelines are challenging. The only way we can be kind and tell the truth is when we shift our consciousness to a place that lessens or removes blame.
I've found Non-Violent Communication (NVC) to be a most amazing modality for communication, particularly when it comes to difficult conversations. NVC forces us to reflect on:
1. What can we agree actually happened?
2 What do I feel?
3. What's the unmet need? What was I hoping for?
4. What life-affirming request might I make?
These inquiries slow down the process and force us to investigate what's true. Oftentimes these questions reveal our 'story' which is usually colored by embellishments or tinged with some form of aversion, clinging or delusion.
Eventually we discover the corollary to that initial statement: What you can communicate sets you free.
Some links you might enjoy: