One of the Biggest Communication Myths….

MarshallRosenbergQuoteOne of the biggest communication myths that leads to a lot of unnecessary pain is the belief that if somebody really cares about you or values you then you shouldn’t have to tell them what you want or need. This can apply in personal relationships as well as in our professional ones.

For example:

  • If you loved me I wouldn’t have to ask you_______________ (to say I love you, for your help, to plan a date, etc).
  • If you really valued me as an employee, you would give me the raise I would like (but have never asked for).

Some people hold the belief that if they have to ask for what they need or want then somehow it doesn’t count.  Not only does it not count, the other person’s inability to anticipate and respond to the unvoiced needs is interpreted as a sign that they are not cared about or valued.

This belief can lead to a lot of suffering for all involved.

Part of healthy communication is the ability to both recognize and voice our own needs and wants. This isn’t always an easy thing. Sometimes we aren’t even sure what we want or need and try to outsource it, hoping the other person can figure out these things for us. Making requests for what we want can also lead to feeling vulnerable, not feeling like we have a right to ask for what we want, or being scared of hearing a negative response.

A great resource for exploring request-making for wants and needs is Non-Violent Communication by Marshall Rosenberg

Experiment: take a moment to think about a current personal or professional relationship. Can you see any areas where it may be hard to identify or ask for what you need/want from the other person? What are some of the thoughts or beliefs that might be acting as barriers?

Any questions? Contact me today!

Please feel free to share!

Are You Judgemental or Curious?

You know that feeling when you are talking to somebody who seems genuinely interested in you and what you have to say?

Think about the last time you had an experience like this.

It generally feels pretty good when others feel curious about us. It can be a real luxury to have space to explore our thoughts, feelings, and ideas without feeling judged or needing to defend ourselves.eecummings_quote

How often do you think you give people the feeling that you are curious about their thoughts, feelings, and ideas? Do you ever notice, if they talk about things you don’t understand or express beliefs that are different from your own, that you start to analyze or judge them? Maybe you start to come up with your own arguments about the flaws in their logic, or thinking about how much you disagree with them…

Being curious about how others see the world without becoming defensive about our own views is no easy task.

As e. e. cummings says, curiosity comes when we believe in ourselves. When we are comfortable with our own boundaries and don’t feel threatened by the differing views of others, we can spend our energy learning more about them without wasting it on defending ourselves or our views.

Certainly there is a time for debating and discussing differing viewpoints.  But if we move right to judging or defending our own perspectives, not only are we likely to trigger defensiveness in others, but we might  also miss the opportunity to understand why they think the way they do and what is important about it to them.

While easier said than done, genuine curiosity often paves the way to fruitful debate or discussion.

Experiment: Observe yourself over the next few days. Don’t try to change anything; just notice how often you feel curious about others’ perspectives, and how often you find yourself judging what they are saying or wanting to defend your own perspective.

Notice what you do differently in each situation. Notice how you react when other’s approach you with curiosity vs. judgement

Questions and requests that can promote curiosity:

  • What is most important to you about __________?
  • I’m interested to hear more about_____________
  • What led you to see things this way?
  • Hmmm that’s really different from how I see_________. I’d love to hear more about how you see _______.

Remember that asking questions and being curious about somebody’s perspective does not have to mean you agree with them!