Compassionate Communication



You can have brilliant ideas, but if you can't convey them to people around you, your team, your customers, they will not go anywhere. Compassionate communication is key. It applies to all aspects of life (work, spouse, kids, community, etc.)

In her book "When Things Fall Apart," Pema Chodron eloquently explains, "only in an open, nonjudgmental space can we acknowledge what we are feeling. Only in an open space where we're not all caught up in our own version of reality can we see and hear and feel who others really are, which allows us to be with them and communicate with them properly... there's nothing more advanced than relating with others. There's nothing more advanced than communication--compassionate communication."

Now I will be the first to tell you that relating to others compassionately is a challenge. When we say communicating with compassion, what we mean is coming out of your head and really communicating from your own heart with authenticity to the heart of the other person. It means not shutting down on yourself and the other person. This means slowing down and giving ourselves permission to feel what we feel and not push it away. It indicates acceptance. Accepting every aspect of ourselves, even the annoying and not so pleasant parts. 

Now to do this, openness is required. In Buddhism this is called emptiness --not fixating or holding on to anything. The openness will help us create a nonjudgmental space to acknowledge what we are feeling and feel who others really are, and this allows us to communicate appropriately. Proper compassionate communication than with it will bring opportunities to create a safe space for the exploration of ideas, learning, growth, and creativity.

But how do we achieve openness? The simple answer is don't get attached, realize emptiness, don't fixate or hold on tight to your identity, image, ideas, and perspectives. According to Pema Chodron, "Pain comes from holding so tightly to having it our own way and that one of the main exits we take when we find ourselves uncomfortable when we find ourselves in an unwanted situation or an unwanted place, is to blame...The way to start would be, first, when we feel the tendency to blame, to try to get in touch with what it feels like to be holding on to ourselves so tightly. What does it feel like to blame? How does it feel to reject? What does it feel like to hate? What does it feel like to be righteously indignant?" 

As you can see it isn't simple, that said it may be worth the pursuit.


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