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7 Rules for Compassionate Communication
Posted by:Cheryl, Jim, Andy + 3 Stooges--Monday, October 03, 2011

In preparing for our first visit with Andy at his new facility; I am attempting to 'let go' of the ANGER within me so that our first visit will be a productive one. Difficult, as I seem to regress to past chapters in our life with him and not focus on the current under construction chapter.

I need to learn to pick my battles; as the worst in me is always peeking around the corner, ready to enter the room. What is causing my teen to disregard laws & respect of others property?

While searching the skies for help I came across Dr. Orloff's 7 points on communication that might help other parents struggling with knee-jerk reactions when sitting down with your teens; whether in placement or at home.

Judith Orloff, MD writes:

"The key to addressing anger is compassionate communication. I'm defining this as an information exchange for the greater good that involves both expressing yourself and empathically listening to another. Then a relationship has the possibility of transformational bonding--the ability to grow deeper as a result of communicating well--rather than pulling away or silencing angry feelings. Of course, it's wise to pick your battles. You don't want to die on just any hill. But once you've determined an issue is worth addressing, the following exercise will yield the best results.

Here are seven rules for compassionate communication:

  1. Calmly express your feelings.
  2. Be specific about why you're angry; stick to one issue.
  3. Request a small, doable change that could meet your need. Clarify how it will benefit your relationship.
  4. Listen non-defensively to another's position; don't interrupt.
  5. Empathize with the person's feelings. Ask yourself: What pain or shortcoming is causing someone to act so angrily, to behave in a manner that doesn't meet my (our family) needs? Take some quiet moments to intuitively sense where the person's heart is hurting or closed. Then compassion will come more easily.
  6. Work out a compromise or resolution. Don't stay attached to simply being "right."
  7. If a person is unwilling to change, you can either accept the situation as-is and try to emotionally detach from it or limit contact.

While communicating, always speak to the best in people, to their intelligence, integrity, or intuition. This will bring out the best in you too. The worst in us is waiting to emerge, but don't go for it. Refrain from getting curt, condescending, or mean; it'll backfire. (Any waitress can vouch for the horrors of what happens to a rude customer's food, including being spit into.) Avoid generalizing, becoming vague, or asking for too much. Stay cool: Don't explode or issue ultimatums before attempting to find common ground. Compassionate communication is a holy exchange, a meeting of hearts that overrides the fascism of malice.

I can only hope Andy has a lot of compassionate communication while meeting with his parents.


Wilma said...

Thanks for this valuable information. We haven't had a visit with Bam Bam at his new placement yet. I know we have to wait until we meet with the therapist and I have to admit I can wait a little longer! There is actually peace at home for now. However, I know the day is coming and I know myself - Bam can usually get me to lose my cool even when I am so detemined not to!
I too am having problems letting go of the anger and also disappointment.
I hope your visit goes well.


Max said...

Cheryl and Jim,
Your decision to consciously address your anger is so admirable, necessary, difficult and exhausting. For our family, communications is one of our largest struggles with both kids. The benefit you have at this moment is you won't be having random conversations with Andy. Mel and I, before a talk with either kid, will always meet and discuss what exactly we want to say, how we will say it, how we will try not to react to his comments, etc. Often, a look or touch on the arm reminds each of us to "stop" or "slow down" or "you're off track". I guarantee improved communication results with Andy (and all your stooges) if you both commit yourselves to remaining calm and prepare before a meeting when you can. I am a very "passionate" communicator - I am not shy in conveying any emotion I may have in me at the time. But I have noticed that the more neutrally I express myself, the less defensive the kid feels, and is more willing to be forth coming. I wish you much success and peace with your new attitudes!

Cheryl, Jim, Andy + 3 Stooges said...

Thanks Max & Wilma - Jim & I have 4 days to prepare and work on our plan. With only 1 hour to visit we hope it can be productive and not FLUFF!


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