Communication Guidelines

Speaking

Express your feelings and thoughts as clearly as you can.

Keep in mind that the other person’s experience of this conflict is not the same as yours. How you are seeing it may not correspond at all with how the other person experienced it. You both have your own experience, they are not wrong or right; they are simply different.

Respect your thoughts and feelings. At the same time respect the thoughts and feelings of others, no matter how different they are from yours.

Every thought and feeling we have usually has a long history. We almost always project our past experiences and associate those with new experience. Learning to recognize our own projections is useful.

We almost always experience important people in our current lives in the same, habitual ways we that we learned in our relationships to our primary caretakers. We project these feelings onto our new relationships, and play out old dynamics. For instance, I experience you as my mother, and I feel the way I did in relation to her, or visa versa.

When others misperceive your words or behaviors, try to realize that they are also projecting their histories onto you. Sorting out these projections, on both sides, is important.

Be aware of all the feelings that are triggered by not being understood correctly, and try to stay focused on what your needs are and what the other person needs, rather than what is wrong with the other person. (See list of interpersonal needs)

We need to take responsibility for our own perceptions that are triggering our feelings, and see that they are products of our own minds. Its important to realize that our reactions are caused by our own associations and not the other person. This is very hard to do and takes practice.

Listening

Focus your attention on what the other person needs, rather than making judgments or evaluating them.

When confronted by negative feedback shift from automatically reacting to trying to be aware of what you are experiencing in the present.

When you find yourself unable to focus on listening to the other person, say so and ask to come back to the process, when you can.

Take time with yourself; observe your thoughts and feelings. Feel what ever you are feeling, without judgments, and when you are ready go back to the process.

Try to speak in ways that express your own truth and try to listen for the other person’s truth. By truth we mean your deepest understanding about what is going on for you.