Compassionate Communication is a way of thinking and speaking that acknowledges the shared aspects of our human experience, our "sameness," rather than our differences. It is a practice that dissolves separation, and the pain of separation, while fostering greater understanding and connection heart to heart. CC's goal is greater relationship harmony, at any time.
There are many aspects and nuances to Compassionate Communication (CC). As such, it is best to approach learning CC with the knowledge that it is a practice: Learning the 4-Step Communication process, and the specific language that it used, takes effort and application, just like anything else that we want to become good at. Below is a bit more about it. If you have any questions about how Compassionate Communication would benefit you on your journey, please feel free to contact me. I offer a complementary 20-minute phone consultation for prospective clients.
Definition of Compassionate Communication
Compassionate Communication (CC) is a method of thinking, speaking, and listening from the heart. It uses specific language and communication skills that strengthen our ability to respond consciously and benevolently, to ourselves and others, during the most trying of circumstances. In its ultimate expression, CC dissolves the illusion perpetuated in our mind that we are separate from one another: In reality, the perceived division between “I” and “them,” and “we” and “they,” dissolves through the realization of our inherent similarity as human beings: That is, each of us experiences similar feelings, and a desire for the fulfillment of our most cherished needs, among them love, belonging, acceptance, peace, safety, security, freedom, creativity, and purpose.
How it works
The Compassionate Communication 4-Step Process is a method for sharing facts, feelings, needs, and preferences for the purpose of achieving an outcome that is life-enhancing for our self and others. The practice includes learning how to speak and listen empathetically, which means having an intention to connect lovingly, and creating a space that honors each person's experiences equally. The result is greater harmony through understanding - an opening of hearts.
Why it works
While it is commonly believed that humans are competitive, it turns out we are actually cooperative and compassionate by nature. It is also our true nature to give and receive love, which means that we feel our best when we are extending compassion to ourselves and others. If you think about it, when any living being is suffering, our first impulse is to help. That impulse, for many, transfers into a desire to form relationships based on a mutual giving and receiving from the heart. In essence, through the process of disclosing our feelings, needs and preferences to another (without being demanding, or using blaming language or tone) their hearts open, and they want to help us meet our needs, and vice-versa. This is the foundation for Compassionate Communication's effectiveness, and it works in ALL types of relationships, even relationships within businesses and organizations.
Through this practice, we also connect to one of our main purposes for being here: to love and serve. It is only when our needs for love, understanding, kindness, and acceptance (to name a few) are not met, that we become hardened or cold, resentful or judgmental, or just despondent or uncaring. Some people, sadly, who experience few of their needs being met, and extreme pain from this fact, can resort to harming others through words and actions. The process of empathy (recognizing and valuing the feelings and needs of others through compassionate listening) can restore an individual's connection to their natural impulse to give and receive love in life-affirming ways.
What you can expect through the practice
Most of us are taught that it is inappropriate to feel or express sadness, anger, or unhappiness of any kind. Moreover, we may have learned at some point in our life that we are weak if we express a need for anything. These outdated notions have had a damaging effect on the human psyche and spirit: In reality we experience the full range of feelings, and all have needs that we would like to have met, beyond our basic needs for food, shelter, water, air, and clothing. Compassionate Communication allows us to tune into our needs, and the needs of others, toward the goal of satisfying those needs in the most life-giving ways.
By employing the CC methodology, you can expect a significant and newfound freedom as well as love and acceptance of yourself and others - linked to an ever-deepening understanding of why humans do what we do and feel what we feel. Then, we have the opportunity to ask for what we'd like, and support others in what they'd like, which enriches our life experience, leading to greater contentment, even happiness, in life. Let me ask you this: What would it feel like to be able to say what you wanted to say, and, more times than not, receive a loving, compassionate response from the receiver? CC not only cultivates freedom of expression but also freedom from the pain of self-loathing, the pain of disconnection from others, and the pain related to a fear of speaking up. It's about sharing our heart, yes, but also creating a loving space for others to share theirs.
There is so much that you can expect as a practitioner of Compassionate Communication - more clarity about why you feel what you feel and why you want what you want. In generally, you will notice more courage, more presence, more kindness, more closeness, love and support, more ease and peace within yourself, and more enjoyment in life. CC provides a unique and coveted opportunity to become more fully human each and every day, without the embarrassment, shame, or guilt that may have consumed us for much of our adult lives.
Who developed Compassionate Communication?
Compassionate Communication is based on Marshall B. Rosenberg's Nonviolent Communication (NVC). Marshall, who passed away in February of 2015, was an internationally recognized lecturer, author, and global peace activist. He is the creator of the Center for Nonviolent Communication, and the author of numerous books, including Nonviolent Communication: The Language of Life. The teachings of Compassionate Communication have spiritual underpinnings, so I also include wisdom from the yogic traditions, as well as other prominent spiritual teachers, such as Eckhart Tolle, Byron Katie, Mark Nepo, Pema Chodron, Thich Nhat Hanh, Jon Kabat-Zinn, Michael Singer, relationship coaches Kathleen and Gay Hendricks, and a host of amazing teachers.
What is possible through compassionate Communication?
In one word: everything. People have used CC to reconcile disputes, to heal deeply held emotional wounds from war, loss, and abuse, and to bring harmony to individuals, families, and communities. CC represents the possibility of healing, not only for an individual's heart, but for the collective heart of humanity, with which many mountains have been moved and "miracles" performed. Compassionate Communication offers hope in a world that desperately needs it. If you are at all interested in this practice, I promise that it will transform the way you think, and the way you live. A commitment to compassionate dialogue not only helps you, and those you touch, but everyone around the globe through the raising of the collective human consciousness.
- Increased confidence in communications
- Greater understanding of ones own behavior, and that of others, which leads to more peace and harmony
- Improved listening skills
- Heightened awareness of ones own feelings, needs, and preferences, and those of others
- Healthier, positive comprehension of human dynamics
- Deepening of love and acceptance for oneself and others
- Expanded sense of power to create change in life-enhancing and meaningful ways
- More happiness and contentedness
- Enhanced connection to the present moment, which aides in clarity, as well as better decision making.
- Strengthened sense of our true nature, which is love and compassion