I Didn’t Mean to Be Mean

Have you ever been accused of disrespecting, treating someone poorly, of being mean? Your natural response was, “But I didn’t mean to be mean.” And it’s true you didn’t mean to be mean.

You had no intention of being mean, but you are, being accused of being mean when it was never your intention to be disrespectful or to make anyone feel bad.

First of all, you do not have to accept responsibility for something you never intended to do. Know it is far more likely that the responsibility for the conflict in a situation where you’ve been accused of wrongdoing, like this, has to do with the person who is accusing you of the transgression.

Communication between any two people has the potential for misinterpretation from the get-go. Just because two different people are not unlike aliens from different planets trying to communicate with each other.

Our lives, pasts, and entire world concepts are vastly different, even if we feel like we are like-minded. It’s surprising that any two people can communicate and connect deeply at all.

Some people are just socially inept and hurt other people’s feelings out of ignorance. They have no clue they are saying things that hurt other people’s feelings. They’re just blurting out whatever comes into their mind with no thought of how their delivery might be received.

People who lack the social skills to communicate effectively may be unintentionally offensive, even when they are in the process of learning better social skills, which is awkward at best, as they continue to hurt people’s feelings while they are exercising their communications skill set.

Today, it’s really easy to hurt someone’s feelings unintentionally because we have common methods of communication which do not deliver 70% of the message correctly. You can text someone on your phone, but because the recipient does not have the ability to see your body language, expression on your face, or hear the tone in your voice, can be offended by something you communicated with the best of intentions, or were just being cute or funny.

Sarcasm is potentially hurtful, even face-to-face with full view of the total delivery process. It’s far more potentially misinterpreted via limited communication methods like texting, email, or other social messaging formats.

Then, there are those who have the best intentions. They just want to reach out and help someone in trouble, pain, or struggling.

Sometimes, people just want to share how they are feeling, only needing someone to listen to their expression of their conflict because it helps them release pressure and helps them figure things out for themselves. But you, because you are sensitive, empathetic, or really want to help this person, may try to give advice which is offensive to the person who was just looking for a compassionate ear. Now, you’ve hurt someone’s feelings when you were just trying to help, and you’ve made things worse.

Realizing this can help you to understand what’s going on when your feelings have been hurt by someone who didn’t have any intentions of being mean at all.

Then there are those who are on the path of self-growth. They are learning to hold up their hand and say, “no,” in an effort to set healthy boundaries and protect their sacred space. This can be awkward at first, and it could unintentionally hurt other people’s feelings. Hopefully, they continue to build their communication skills so that it doesn’t seem offensive.

In all honesty, though, there are those who will hurt people on purpose and use the same phrase, “I didn’t mean to be mean,” to cover up the fact that they actually had the full intention of delivering a message they knew would hurt your feelings.

For them, using the “I didn’t mean to be mean,” is a cop-out used as a method to sidestep any responsibility for hurting your feelings when inside they are secretly feeling better or even pleasure from causing you emotional trauma.

Why would someone intentionally want to hurt your feelings?

Offense as Your Defense

Are you commonly offended or feel disrespected by others? In some, if not most cases, the aggression you feel from someone else isn’t so much an offense as your defense. When you feel like you’ve been emotionally assaulted consider looking within. Is there a possibility that the situation is not an offense so much as it is your defense mechanism overreacting?

The basis of this is a hybrid composite of perception and misinterpretation. Your perception is predisposed, locked and loaded, like a shotgun, ready to protect you from any emotional assault because you’ve been hurt in the past.

That which you look for you will find. If you are loaded for fear, you see potential danger everywhere you look and from this perspective, you are most likely to misinterpret just about anything as a potential assault.

As much as you believe you can understand what a person is really thinking, the truth is you can never know what’s going on inside someone’s head, still you look for the potential threat behind the words which is little more than bad mind reading.

Consider that some people just prefer to state the facts and they are quite adept at doing so without anticipating how it might be interpreted by another person to whom the direct response is directed (or overheard by a third-party who doesn’t fully understand the complete framework of the soundbite).

This includes the “Let your yea be yea and your nay be nay”* folks who believe that “yes” and “no” are complete sentences. By not mincing words and just stating the bare statements, assertions, and/or facts, it engenders misinterpretation to fill in the gaps of unspoken words fueled by unintended abruptness.

Then there is also Mr. Or Mrs. Nicely-nice. He or she will do anything to tiptoe around the subject or matter at hand to avoid hurting anyone’s feelings or conflict. These people do not realize that by beating around the bush their attempt to communicate can be interpreted as having something to hide or potentially a hidden agenda, which secretly cancels out their attempts at being perceived as “nice.”

For those who are socially inept, their method(s) of communication can seem rude or abrupt, making you feel as though they are being rude or mean when they are just awkward in their ability to communicate succinctly. They have no idea that their communication is being interpreted negatively, and can’t imagine why someone would not take their words at face value.

If you were to be honest with yourself, you might consider that even you tend to say things in a manner which makes sense to you in all its brevity without considering how it might be received by a listener who does not possess the full understanding of your breadth of knowledge which resides in the knowledge safely locked away inside your mind, yet undisclosed in your statement. You just assume that your audience understands what you’re saying, when nothing could be further from the truth.

When we don’t fully understand what someone is trying to communicate, we tend to fill in the blank spaces with information from our own lives.

If you are in a defensive position, you tend to fill in the blanks with hidden agendas, threats of violence, or other types of potential emotional abuse.

Be open to the idea that people are just people, and for the most part, they are not “out to get you.”

I’m not saying not to be aware, but do not look for demons everywhere, for if you do you can find them anywhere, even if it is not so.

You deserve to live a better life.

* Matthew 5:37

Getting to Know You

When you’re getting to know someone, you are also letting them get to know you better. The best way to do this is to be open, honest, find common ground and communicate with each other as you build a relationship without judgment. Especially in the beginning, it’s best to avoid conversations which can lead to disagreement or conflict.

Not being quick to assume, accuse or judge someone can go a long way in building rapport, so just don’t go there. If you have some pressing thought, idea or question that might be offensive, wait until you have built rapport and get to know each other better. This will also help you to have a better idea about how to approach the idea or question in a way that is respectful of his or her personality and communication style.

If I am getting to know you as a person, you are no threat to me. I am investing my efforts to get to know you better, without you having to prove yourself worthy of my attention or friendship. As I get to know you better, I learn whether I can trust you. If I can, trust develops, and you move closer to my inner circle of relationships.

Invite those you are getting to know to ask questions if anything is unclear about what you are talking about, especially if it is in regard to you or the kind of person that you are. It is common for someone who is harboring an unspoken question to file it away as if it was asked but left unanswered. This figures into their continuum of understanding or judging who you are as a person.

There is no blame associated with this process, it is just how the human brain works. By being open and inviting invitations to query you, the unspoken questions may be addressed and clarified.

When I’m getting to know someone, I like to add value to the conversation by giving them something to think about, challenge them (without overwhelming them) or make them feel a little better than before we exchanged ideas. If it’s appropriate, I might suggest a little homework assignment and invite them to get back to me on how it turned out.

You never know which acquaintances might grow and develop into lifelong friends, so leave the door open for them to reconnect with you again. It might be a good idea to set a date and time for reconnecting at the end of this conversational exchange.

If it sounds like they are uncertain about their schedule or may not feel as though this might be more than what they bargained for, not to worry. Make sure you arm them with a manner by which you can be contacted in the future, if they are feeling like they might like to reconnect or get to know you better later, at a time when it is more convenient for them.

If you’ve been able to garner some valuable insight or nugget of truth from your interaction with this person, by all means, tell him or her. Every interaction between two people has the potential for enlightenment, acknowledging such opens the door for even more. Everyone feels good about lending value to another’s life, even if only in small, otherwise insignificant ways.

So, be on the lookout for something positive in each interaction and chances are you will find something beneficial, helpful, or a thought or idea which raises your enthusiasm or joy.

Take advantage of the digital tools you possess. Exchange email addresses or offer to hook up on social media. This helps to maintain contact or allow this person to reach out to you when the timing is better for him or her.

Not all the people you meet will be a good match for developing a deeper relationship with. In fact, some can even be disadvantageous or harmful. If the new person you’ve met becomes a drain on your resources, then know when to move along.

Some people can be like a black hole of negative energy, draining your and others whenever they are around. There is no judgment here because it’s just the way they are. You cannot change an energy vampire or prevent them from draining your energy but you must find ways to isolate yourself enough so as to not let them drain you and move on.

If you are sensitive and aware enough to identify this person as a potential energy drain at the get-go, there is no need to offer an opportunity to reconnect at a later date. Be polite, trust your instincts and proceed appropriately.

Be gentle with those you choose to move on and away from. Honor them and protect yourself. Be mindful of who they are as a person and have empathy for their plight without exposing yourself too much or offending them.

Many an offended person with low self-esteem has taken to the Internet with false accusations, negative reviews, and public forum bad-mouthing in an attempt to seek revenge for having their feelings hurt.

This is bound to happen occasionally but being mindful and cautious can help you in taking the high road to living a better life, while honoring others who are only doing the best they can with what they have, just like us.

Loving How to Communicate in Love

Heartfelt communication can make the difference between sweet love and love crisis in love and romance. How you share those most important issues any normal couple faces amidst your love life makes all the difference in love and loving. How to communicate in love with compassion is the doorway leading to the next level in your love’s exponential potential.

Dr. Harville Hendrix and Dr. Helen LaKelly Hunt created a loving technique which helps you understand how to communicate in love and relationships called the Imalgo Dialogue or “safe conversation.” This is a process of moving through communicative exchange between two people which engenders loving how to communicate in love.

Here is a basic structure you can follow to experience what it is like to engage in the loving communication model.

Let’s say your partner has something important to say to you. If you want to use this safe conversation model to have a deeper level of connection and communication with your partner, oversimplified, it would go something, like this:

1. Tell me about it.

Allow your partner to tell his or her story.

2. That’s interesting. What else?

Now, you’re inviting your partner to delve deeper into their story.

3. How does that make you feel?

This is safely inviting your partner to share how they feel, which is often overlooked in conversation, unless it is exposed when negative communication styles erupt emotionally.

4. Is there more?

Let’s face it, we’re all a little protective about how we feel. This is a safely guarded spot in our heart, where we hide our feelings. Being invited by your partner to express any underlying, deeper emotion, is not only increasing your connection, it also enables you to examine and rationalize what might be underneath why you are feeling the way you’re feeling.

5. Let me see if I’ve got that.

This is when you restate your partner’s story, and how they feel about the issue at hand in your own words, trying to see it from his or her point of view, including how he or she feels about it.

6. Is that right?

This invites your partner to make any corrections to your attempt to understand his or her point of view. Let hi or her correct you, then repeat go back to step 5. Repeat as necessary, until your partner indicates that you have a good understanding of his or her perspective and feelings regarding the topic at hand.

7. Is there more?

This introduces a loop back to step 4 which might appear to be redundant but actually, your partner has often uncovered more about the topic of this discussion, discovered new information, and found links to other emotional issues from the past. There may be new information to share.

When all is said and done, you can lovingly let your partner know,

“I see how that make sense. And understanding that, I see that it could make you feel…” fully supporting him or her without interrupting, challenging, or judgment. This is compassion in action.

You can find out more about the Imalgo Dialogue in Getting the Love You Want, A Guide for Couples by Dr. Harville Hendrix and Dr. Helen LaKelly Hunt.

It’s Not What You Say It’s How You Say It

Ever try to talk to someone, expressing an opinion that the person you’re talking to is not getting it? Not only is this person not getting it, they may have a completely opposite point of view. Once you’ve determined the person is not receptive to what you have to say, you might consider to assert yourself risking a full on debate which could lead to war, or clam up and walk away in an effort to avoid any potential conflict.

It’s Not What You Say,
It’s How You Say It

On the other hand, you can assert your ideas, concepts, and beliefs in such as way so as not to alienate the person (or people) you are trying to express your ideals to. I think finding a way to speak your truth is important. You need to say what you need to say but say it in a way that it won’t turn someone away.

You need to possess the self-confidence to assert yourself in certain circumstances. For sensitive or introverted personality types this can be a challenge. For those who are more sensitive, you need to get a grip on who you are. You are an amazing person who has been blessed with the opportunity to be here. You have accepted the life challenge which has brought you to this place and time to say what you want to say. It’s up to you to accept the challenge and speak your piece.

You are a unique individual who has come to this planet a purpose, message, passion, and mission to share and fulfill. You came here with special skills and abilities, everything you could possibly need to achieve your highest and best, live a better life, your best life, and make the world a better place. Step into who you know you are and boldly go forth into the world, ready and willing to speak up when it is necessary or prudent.

It takes courage, and you can prepare for this higher level of sharing by practicing your sharing skills in private. Yes, just you and your mirror, or record your own audio and/or video. Review your delivery, and tweak accordingly. This can be a huge confidence-builder in terms of strengthening your assertion skills. Practice is good.

Defending your position, when you’re faced with someone with an opposing view is tricky business. This is where most people fall apart, isolate their audience, potentially bully, and prevent any hope of meaningful conversation. If you assert yourself too forcefully, the person you’re talking to is either going to post up for a debate or shut down. Anything you say after that is falling on dead ears and is not only a waste of your time; it is counterproductive because your defense tactic is too offensive. You’ve potentially hurt their feelings, bullied them, repelled your audience and sent them (metaphorically) running in the opposite direction that you intended.

Be mindful of the delivery of your message. Don’t raise your voice when you’re approached with opposing views, or use words or phrases that will alienate or put the person you’re trying to talk to on the defensive, such as tossing shoulds at your audience. “You should,” causes the person to position for battle. No one likes to be told what they “should” do, and just as importantly avoid using should-related terms, like shouldn’t, must, mustn’t, need to, has to, only if, or only when.

Awfulizing statements (a phrase coined by Albert Ellis) refers to words and phrases associated with the word “awful” which causes your audience to put on their armor and prepare for battle. Awfulizing uses the word “awful,” as wells as other words and phrases like terrible, horrible, it bothers me, I can’t stand it when, or I hate it, etc…

Don’t punish your listener by framing your message with punishment, even if it’s directed to others outside of the conversation. This is a sensitive topic of conversation which causes the listener to reach for weapons to ready themselves for battle, so avoid saying someone deserves to be punished, should be “taught a lesson,” or needs to know what it feels like. Including the damnation of others, or yourself.

Also avoid using constrictive or limiting words that are 100% exclusive, allowing no other possibilities, such as always or never.

Be open and honest without being offensive. You don’t have to be rude or resort to name-calling. Just say what you mean without compromising but do it in a kind and gentle manner. Assert yourself while remaining calm and centered as you share your message as you are being courteous, compassionate, and use a tender tone of voice, without having to be aggressive or disrespectful to your audience.

Try to speak the language of the person that you’re trying to talk to. Try to see your message from their point of view. Imagine what if might like to be this person, having lived the life they lived, dealing with circumstances and situation, which you may have no reference to. Consider having walked a mile in this person’s shoes. Then think about what presentation might be the best approach for trying to compassionately communicate with someone like this.

Listen to your audience’s opposing view with compassion, essentially seeing it with their eyes, from their point of view. Seek to understand first, then ask yourself, “If I were this person, what would I need to hear?” How would you need to hear it in order to be the most receptive?

It’s so important to say what you need to say, because if you don’t you give away your power and deny your divinity, So, say what you need to say but say it in way that you can continue to achieve your highest and best, live a better life, your best life, and make the world a better place.

We Need to Talk

“We need to talk” are the most threatening four words in love and relationships. When you speak these four words to your partner his or her mind races wondering what he or she might have done wrong, when maybe all you wanted to do was to connect with your partner.

We need to talk
We need to talk

Important Conversations

Then there are the more important conversations about you not getting your needs met. More likely you’re apt to say, “We need to talk,” when something is amiss.

Sometimes your need to talk becomes so great because you’ve bottled something up inside for so long that’s it’s reached critical mass, and you explode at your partner as you release all that pent-up pressure. To prevent this from happening, you need a solid plan for uncomfortable communication.

Let’s face it, you love your partner and don’t want to do anything to hurt him or her. You don’t want to confront your partner about anything that he or she might think of as “no big deal” when it’s clearly something that’s important to you, so you decide to brush it away and try to tell yourself that, “Maybe it is no big deal.” And the pressure builds the more you try to squash your feelings in the best interest of the relationship.

By the way, chances are, you’re partner feels the same way and is doing the same thing.

This is the destructive dance which erodes and can lead to your relationship’s demise.

When either of you reaches that point of, “That’s all I can stands and I can’t stands no more!” and you or your partner explodes in a fit of rage, the other gets defensive, accusations and disrespect abounds and the war is on.

This is why you need a plan to express your needs or what is bothering you far before your angst reaches the boiling point; the sooner the better.

Before you start to execute the plan, practice your love mantra, “I love my partner. I wouldn’t do anything to hurt my partner and he (or she) loves me and wouldn’t intentionally do anything to hurt me. No matter what, we always desire the best for each other. We love each other.” You may need to repeat these words to yourself throughout the planning process, and you will want to have them ready to use during the potentially difficult conversation.

Review what’s bothering you. Try to reduce it to a single cohesive and definitive sentence (or as few sentences as possible). Then imagine what your highest and best outcome might be. I mean, if you could have all your dreams come true about this situation or concern, what would it look like?

Remind yourself of your partner’s best qualities, what he or she brings to your life that you would miss if he or she wasn’t in your life (you might like to start off a difficult conversation by first saying these things to your partner, so that he or she know you mean no harm and respect him or her for what he or she brings to the relationship which is highly valued by you).

Next, approach your partner about what might be an appropriate time to have a chat. You might want to avoid those four words, “We need to talk,” and maybe discuss with your partner what might be a more non-threatening way to ask to have a talk. Let him or her offer up the words that might be more appropriate.

Keep in mind that your partner may not be ready to have this conversation now, even though you might be feeling it’s getting close to urgent. Allow your partner the space to pick a time when they can focus on you, your concerns and your relationship.

Be certain to allow enough time for this conversation. How much time you’re thinking it’s going to take? Multiply that two-and-a-half times. Because most likely you’re thinking about how long it’s going to take to express your concerns, but you’re not allowing enough time for reaction and interaction.

Be prepared for this to be a two-way street. When you express your concerns, there’s a chance your partner will become defensive of having some concerns of their own that they will want to bring up during the conversations.

Find a way to sit during the conversation that is not confrontational. Sit beside each other (not across from each other), face each other and try to maintain eye contact. Do not attempt to have a difficult conversation while driving. This could be dangerous.

Express your concern as well as what it might look like if you could have it any way you want it, then allow your partner to figure out a way to give you what you need. You might be surprised that he or she can find a way to give you what you need in ways you may have never thought of.

Leave room for full expression of feelings, and try not to berate each other for fully expressing emotionally. There may be a pressure that has been building up over a period of time, and this is a good way to release it. Try to be open, not to take it too personally, be forgiving, and compassionate.

Be willing to compromise, like, this is what I want/this is what you want. Let’s find a win-win solution that can give us both what we are looking for.

If the conversation is tarrying on and is taking longer than you expected to reach a resolution, no problem. Agree to take a break, resume your loving relationship, maybe take a dinner break, or have a good night’s sleep, and pick it up again later.

There’s no need to adhere to the old adage, “Don’t go to bed angry,” and fight it out when your energy reserves are dwindling. This is not the best approach. Agree to lay down your weapons and let it simmer, then pick it up again later, when you both have the time and energy to honor each other and work through this process with your greatest capabilities.

There’s no need to rush through this, especially if you have the rest of your lives to think about.

You can do this and your love can thrive.

What do you want people to know about you?

How we perceive ourselves and how others perceive who we are can be two different things. There is so much of our life that’s spend inside our heads and our hearts, we just assume that this information kind of bubbles over enough that people get a sense of who you are.

We tend to see ourselves in 3D, while others only see an outline, our shadows, a 2D silhouette at best, when in reality we are far more than could ever be conceived of or explained in 3D.

People do not see who you are as a person, they only have access to a limited amount of data, which they measure with their own prejudices to draw a conclusion about who they think you are.

It’s certainly not enough for people to know what you do for a living. Often we are judged and categorized by our jobs, or job titles, which hardly indicates who you are as a person, but nonetheless, once someone has learned about your career, they automatically associate certain attributes to you, and once they’ve done that they don’t really care to know who you really are because they’ve already made up their mind about who you are.

Concerning what you do for a living, even though others have an idea of your functioning roll in what you do, they have no idea why you do what you do, or for whose benefit. Far more than what you do, you are a complex variety of skills, strengths, expertise, gifts and special abilities, as well as having a unique purpose and message that makes you who you really are.

People who have a high degree of efficiency in delivering their personal array or their true identity are identifiable and unlikely to be lost among the mob, tribe or community where they reside. Other people get a sense that there is something different about them (if they only knew, there’s something different about all of us).

Starting with what you do, or your job title, stop letting others define you by your title. Instead of saying what your title is, or what you do, interject some unique details about you, because I guarantee, as much as you do the same thing that everyone else does in your job, what you do is unique, because you bring something to the color and flavor of what you do that no one else can duplicate.

In order to adequately present who you are to someone else, you need to have a good working knowledge of who you are. You may not give this much thought, because no one knows you better than you do, and you just take yourself for granted. But put it into words and write it on paper, who you are.

What are your skills, strengths, expertise, gifts, special abilities, purpose and message?

Write them down.

Once you have your list ask yourself, which of these things do I want other people to understand about me and who I am?

Now, you’ve got something to work with. There’s a good chance that more than half of the things on this final list of what you’d like others to have an idea about you, they have no clue.

Once you have this list it’s on you to do the work of finding ways to expose these important facets of your life, otherwise people will only know you by what they see on the surface, like “He’s a stock broker, who cracks people up with his jokes.” when you are so much more than a broker with a good sense of humor, but if that’s all they see, then to them, that’s all you are. Additionally, they have likely made judgment calls based on their person prejudices based on you’re being a stock broker as well.

So, it’s up to you to find ways to let the real you shine through, if you want people to see you for more than what you appear to be on the surface.
If you don’t want anyone to know anything about you, and you’re more comfortable keeping yourself a secret, there’s nothing wrong with that. In this case, you need to be true to you and protect yourself in any way you see fit. These recommendations are not for you.

The idea of publicly declaring and defining who you are as an individual is only for those of you who have a desire to present yourself individually to your peers, and to separate yourself from the pack, for whatever reason.

Relationship Skills for a Better Life

Since you do not live in a vacuum, you are surrounded by a wide variety of people who add color and depth to your human experience, how you manage these people (or how they manage you) are based on your relationship skills.

Relationships come in all shapes and sizes from spousal, cohabitation, familial, friends, coworkers, and acquaintances. Sometimes, family (our closest relationships) are the most difficult to manage.

Probably, the most important skill you can have in managing your relationships is communication. How adept or inept you are at demonstrating your communication skills can have a huge impact on the relationships you manage.

It’s pretty apparent if you possess pathetic communication skills. For instance, people constantly misunderstand what you’re trying to say, you are prone to get into heated debates (even though you may feel like you’re winning), and your emotions run high when you are talking to someone about something that is important to you (and more likely, not positive emotions). Is it any wonder people are less likely to want to be in your presence?

By building your relationship skills, you can develop deeper, more meaningful relationships, which promotes more success, abundance, and happiness in your life.

Some things you might consider in building your relationship skills might be,

When a conversation is heading into difficult territory, avoid bringing up the past. By staying current, you and the other participants are less likely to be defensive of fill like they’re being attacked.

Try to put yourself in the other person’s shoes. What might it look like from their point of view, having lived the life they’ve lived? Sticking to your guns, and not allowing someone to see, think of feel differently, only causes separation, while allowing people to be who they are creates more affinity.

Pay attention to what they’re saying. Use active listening skills by repeating what they’ve said in your own words to acknowledge them and let them know you’re understanding what they’re saying.

When somebody says something that is contrary to what you might believe, or you’re feeling criticized or challenged, don’t ready yourself for a battle. Try not to be so defensive, and respond with an affirmative, “Oh, that’s interesting.” And if they try to pick a fight, don’t let them drag you into destructive banter. Stay your ground and remain positive.

Give up the idea of winning and seek ways you can arrive at compromise. Finding a way to compromise means “everyone wins.” Avoid win/lose conversations or situations, and don’t settle for win/lose compromise where one party is making all the concessions. Make sure both parties give-in and both parties get some of the important things they wanted.

If the conversation is getting heated and emotions are rising, take a break. Agree to do something else for a pre-determined amount of time and return to the subject at hand, after taking a break, when you are refreshed and can revisit the topic with clear heads and hearts.

Blaming someone never accomplishes anything but causing more division. Find ways to take responsibility for whatever you can. This helps to relieve the pressure, plus it gives you more control, the more responsibility you take. Why? Because you’re the only one who can control you.

If you think things are getting away from you, then seek a coach, counselor or consultant who can advise and act as a mediator to break through any barriers you may be facing.

Make time to cultivate your relationships. Don’t let texting or social media be your only connection method. There’s nothing that compares to authentic face-to-face time. Create opportunities for more in-person conversation, leading to a deeper, more meaningful connection.

It’s not just enough to be in the presence of someone, like at a movie, or a conference. Make time for a little face-to-face interaction before, after, or during breaks to communicate and interconnect directly.

If you’re not in the habit of it, be bold enough to freak out your friends and family by calling them via voice phone (no texting allowed, here) for no other reason, just to say, “Hi,” without any agenda, other than to let them know you were thinking about him or her.

If someone is important to you, let them know, even if only in some small way. Send them a note, or some small token of your affection, thanking them for being a positive influence in your life. These people help give your life meaning.

If your relationship is built on a foundation of love, don’t be afraid to let them know, if not by words, then by touching them appropriately while communicating with them, or greet them with a light hug or some other appropriate gesture.

Communication and Connection

We are, all of us, ingredients of the human soup. There’s no formal step-by-step recipe, we’re just all lumped together into the boiling pot of life. How do you like that?

All of us are ingredients in different soups, all simmering throughout our lives, and some of us have many soups simmering throughout our days. There’s the home soup, the partner soup, the work soup, the travel soup, the school soup, the news soup, the friend soup, the shopping soup, the spiritual soup,  the community soup, the world soup… it goes on and on. You’re managing more soups that Campbell’s.

If we’re all going to be in this soup together, don’t you think we should find ways to interact with each other while we’re in the soup together?

No matter what kind of soup you’re in, your ability to effectively communicate with the other ingredients in the soup can lead to the creation of the best tasting and satisfying soup experience.

To better communicate with people, try not being rude. If you’re in the habit of interrupting or finishing sentences for someone, try letting them finish their own sentences. When you cut them off, they may be reluctant to re-engage and you may lose creating a connection with this person. Let your conversation be inviting and encouraging the other person to expound on their thoughts and reach even deeper in their relation to you. Not cutting off someone mid-sentence or thought, invites them to be more open, creating an environment for greater connection.

While you’re not interrupting, you might consider really making the effort to listen intently to what they’re saying and indicating you are listening by not only acknowledging you are listening, to verify by feeding what they are saying back to them. When you’re actively listening in this manner, you are less inclined to be thinking more about what you will say next. When you’re not actively listening, you may only be picking up key words and phrases and planning your response. Not listening intently could have you missing something of importance.

Don’t let your thoughts drift off or otherwise disconnect from the conversation. Even if you disagree with what the other person is saying, let them say their piece. Don’t take a defensive position and let them know you have respect for their point of view.

Try to keep your feet firmly planted on the ground by resisting the temptation of exaggerating opinions, circumstances of facts in an attempt to gain control or superiority when engaged in a difficult conversation. Don’t use exclusive hyperbole such as, “You never,” or, “You always.” Rarely, if ever, are these exaggerated claims ever true.

Seeking to affix blame onto someone else, only distracts from the ability to resolve or come to a logical conclusion in any circumstance, while setting the base tone of that conversation in a negative vibration from that point forward. You can only change or affect anything that you take responsibility for.

When you are conversing and potentially creating a connection with someone resist the temptation to reach into the past bringing up and breathing life into otherwise dead issues. Try to keep your conversation current, in the present tense. Anchoring people in the past is far from the integrous intention of focusing on the now. Often the past casts a haze on the clarity of what is transpiring today.

No one’s position has ever been converted by debate. So avoid this type of adversarial conversation at all costs. All debating does is to bolster and further solidify the other person’s position while promoting separation. Keeping the conversation open, honest and permeable fosters an environment where people are willing to let down their guards, and allow the conversation to reach a deeper level of connection. In this state, people are more vulnerable and may be more open to new ideas, or even question dogma.

Surrender any inclination you might have to win in any conversation. Always be open to the idea that your desire is to arrive at a mutually beneficial resolution without causing emotional distress. Honor what the other person has to say. Let your conversation be fueled by love and mutual respect, not the need to dominate the verbal exchange or to be the winner (which implies that the person you’re talking to is the loser).

In the event that things are getting emotionally charged, tense or heated, take a break. A brief time out can be appropriate and allow each of you to re-center yourselves. You don’t necessarily have to break exposure to each other completely (like leaving the room or taking a walk) as this might look like abandonment. Instead, think about offering to change the subject completely to something you both can enjoy taking about while agreeing to resume the difficult conversation following the brief recess. Approaching a difficult conversation after a break can help to let parties think more freely and openly when their emotions aren’t overriding their ability to effectively communicate or connect.

If you have differing points of view, honor the other person’s point of view. Think about it; don’t you want the other person to honor and respect your point of view? Of course, you do. So, doesn’t it just make so much sense to treat the person with whom you are trying to conversate or connect with the same respect? It’s up to you to set the proper environment of respect and potential connection. Certainly, you need to be able to express your opinion or offer you unique perspective or share your concerns, but do so motivated by love, not aggression.

I am regularly remembering the advice of Steven Covey, to “Always seek win-win,” (habit #4 of the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People) in any conversation. By applying these methods of effectively communicating and connecting via earnest conversation, everyone wins, no matter what soup you’re in.

 

Communication in Difficult Circumstances

Since we are sharing our planet with other people, all of whom are on their own individual journeys, many, if not all of them, are dissimilar in many ways in comparison to you. If you have chosen to start thinking for yourself and separate yourself from the masses, then you are becoming even more unlike them. Yet, the fact remains, we are all here, doing the best we can with what we have and must find way to use our words to bless those around us.

No matter where you are in the river of life, you need to find ways to integrate and communicate and play well with others. You must navigate and maintain a variety of levels of relationships. The key in maintaining effective relationships is finding ways to communicate and connect with others in such a way as to thrive effectively among the landscape of this life. A landscape sprinkled with a wide variety of opportunities to interact and commune with others in your family, with your friends, community, while pursuing your vocation, delivering your message, while sharing your skills and abilities, giving your gifts and blessing others.

How you respond to those who will challenge you, berate or threaten you will depend on your ability to communicate well and choose your words wisely, or to refrain from speaking altogether in a moment that would not benefit from your spoken word.

Find ways to find a place of love and peace within yourself, regardless of facing insurmountable odds or managing difficult situation or people, while maintaining the wherewithal to control your emotions and words when others might have fallen to lesser vibrations of prideful conflict.

You will never be free from the emotional challenges that face others, but you can live and manage your life in such a way to minimize exposure to and the impact of these challenges. Try as you might, you will occasionally face situations where you find yourself in a difficult situation. In these moments, you might find some of these ideas helpful, such as

Firstly, avoiding the lure of defending yourself, your ideals or beliefs about certain emotionally charged subjects, like religion or politics. You are not here to defend your beliefs or challenge anyone else’s. You honor everyone’s right to find their own way, and expect the same respect in kind, that is all. Listen, if you like, but do not debate. Debating only widens the gap between polarities, only love closes the gap. If it conflict looks unavoidable, leave the room, or otherwise excuse yourself or find another place to be.

Don’t attempt to change another person’s point f view, do not challenge their belief system, this will only trigger their base emotions crating in them the need to bolster up and defend themselves in a fight or flight reaction. In the fight-fueled combat, things can get very dicey, dark and evil, for at the most instinctual level, they will defend their position or fight (even if metaphorically) with their life’s blood. Your battle is not on the playing field of others, your battles are fought within.

If someone is in the habit of presenting you with conflict or urging you to defend yourself, do not fall in their trap or challenge to a duel. Some people derive a sense of power by causing others to falter or destroying them altogether. They will do whatever they can to throw you off track. If this is the case, find ways to establish healthy boundaries to protect yourself from such predatory abuse.

Above all live a live of tolerance, understanding that everyone’s world revolves around their own individual perspective and beliefs about how the world is. None of us has all the answers and we all are at various stages among our own quest in the pursuit of freedom, happiness and truth. Bless everyone at whatever stage they are and love them regardless of where they are on their journey, or what destination it appears they are enroute to. Do not measure your stage in comparison to anyone else’s. Every journey is a journey of one.

See only the good aspects of others, even if they are challenging or threatening you. Remember that their approach to you is based on a life of programming that has resulted in this attitude or outburst. It is likely that they are harboring a deep, dark past, and withholding emotions that has caused a chain-reaction, displaying itself in a moment of weakness. Do not pity them, but honor them for making it this far, and hope they find better ways to express themselves in the future. If not, bless them anyway.

Remember there are no good people or evil people, everyone is only seeing as they can through the eyes of the man or woman they have become, which is based on so much programming and life experience in varying degrees of positivity and negativity, every moment of every day is a constant struggle for survival, especially for the greater portion of our population. Love them, where they are.

Know your limits, and look for clues that it’s time to look for an exit. Better to avoid a battle than engage in it. For what good is it to risk your reputation or your well being, or to damage someone else’s? You have a higher ideal and calling. It is better not to engage, unless it is completely unavoidable.

Avoid finding the need to assign blame when you find yourself in difficult situations, and be gracious and kind even when facing someone who is enraged. Let them express themselves, and if it’s too much to bear, just walk away, loving them as you do so.

Sometimes a light-hearted sense of humor can break the negative state of an adversary. Some people are gifted with this mechanism of knowing a funny thing to say that is non-threatening but breaks the negativity enough to cause the other person to make adjustments to their tactic, possibly abandoning the conflict altogether.

Surround yourself with supportive, positive people to help you keep an even equilibrium in your social surroundings.

Life is a journey. Try to make the best of it you can by getting along with those around you. People are watching you. You may be the inspiration for others to try to get along with others in their lives too.

Loving first is always the best approach to any potentially negative situation.