If you make the following eight steps a consistent habit, you will have taken large strides towards compassionate communication.
1. Focus on the other person
Everyone loves to talk about them self. It is a natural instinct. However, if you wish to build trust and compassion in your relationships, it is more important that you begin with a focus on the other person. When you do this, you can develop a thorough understanding of them and their needs. This allows you to engage in conversation from a more informed position, thus improving the quality of the conversation.
2. Listen attentively
Listening is not an opportunity for you to prepare your response. If you are to be able to respond accordingly, you must first listen to what the other person has to say. When you listen, and you understand, you are in a better position to determine the appropriate response.
3. Do not rush to respond
When you rush to respond, you show that you have not really attempted to understand the other person. Wait until they have finished speaking to consider your response and take as much time as necessary to consider your response. If you feel you need a little more time to consider your response, say so. Allowing yourself the necessary time to respond is essential for compassionate communication. It demonstrates that the conversation is important to you and you want to give it the consideration it merits.
4. Speak well of others
Take the time to speak well of others, and be sincere about it. Doing so allows you to separate the person from the conversation or the behaviour. When you are in the habit of seeing the good in other people, you are more likely to approach conversations with compassion at the front of your mind.
5. Don’t take it personal
When you have to have difficult conversations, things will not always go as you had hoped. Remember that the other person has their own needs and preferences. These will, on occasion, prevent them from facilitating your needs. When you practice compassionate conversation, you realise this, and you accept that disagreements occur and they should not be taken personally.
6. Avoid assumptions
Assumptions are a major source of stress and conflict. You are not a mind reader, nor is anyone else. When another person does, or says, something which you disagree with; do not assume that you know their reasoning. Rather than make assumptions, you can politely ask them if they can explain. When you do this politely, most people will be happy to explain. If you cannot get an explanation, do the compassionate thing and accept that the other person must have their reasons.
7. Be yourself
Authenticity lies at the very core of compassionate communication. Compassion requires sincerity and you cannot be sincere when you try to be something, or someone, that you are not. Be yourself, and be true to your values and principles. As long as you respect other people’s rights to their own values and principles, you will be fine.
8. Seek opportunities to be compassionate
You do not have to wait for something major to happen before you can practice compassionate communication. In everyday life, there are many opportunities for you to practice your skills. When you do, you will soon become proficient. That way, when a major incident occurs, you will be ready to act with compassion.
If you want to improve your communication skills, check out How To Talk So Others Will Listen.
Compassionate communication requires you to make a real effort to understand other people and their needs. When you do this, you are able to build strong, healthy relationships based on trust, respect and understanding. Even when you find that you cannot build a relationship with someone, compassionate communication allows you maintain your respect for them. When you practice compassionate communication, you no longer feel the need to compete with others. Instead, you build respectful, collaborative relationships which offer support and synergy, thus helping you to achieve more than you could do otherwise.