Communicating Kindly


I struggle to communicate well. To be honest, I struggle in communicating at all…the well bit is merely something to which I aspire.

I haven’t always struggled to communicate; not because I did it any better at any other point in my life, but because I didn’t know that I wasn’t particularly good at it. I honestly thought that what I communicated was as clear as the nose on my face (which is rather pronounced and impossible to miss). What I didn’t realize, is that it is possible for someone to see the nose differently than I saw it and that if I attempted to see the world through that person’s perceptions, mine would inevitably change as would my reality. And that was a truly remarkable moment for me.

I remember when I came across this book. It was completely by accident. I was reading the New York Times’ Review of Books, looking up a recent publication on Amazon in order to read reviews, when this one popped up in the result list. The title startled me because in that moment, I recognized why I experienced those many moments of frustrated and unsuccessful attempts to communicate with people I love. My body responded to the clarity by slumping in the seat, sighing deeply, and feeling a few tears slip down my cheeks.

I have been blessed with the gifts of articulation (a.k.a. a sharp tongue), strong convictions (a.k.a. highly opinionated), and heightened passions (a.k.a. a short temper). In the heat of a difference of opinions (a.k.a. an argument), all of these gifts come together alarmingly well for devastating results. My focus becomes more and more narrow as the importance of being heard escalates such that it quickly becomes impossible for me to even acknowledge that another person is in the room. My resulting words in these moments always cut with scalpel-like precision where it hurts the worst, and, much to my horror, I rarely feel regret. So, when I saw this book cover, it startled me into recognizing that it is possible to disagree kindly with someone I love. I know this isn’t a new mental concept to me, for my mother never ceases to remind me of kinder ways of stating my clear and precise attempts at communicating. However, this brutally honest, yet openly vulnerable appeal of a message was the catalyst that finally opened the light of day to my emotional understanding.

The necessity of such compassion in communication hit very close to home today when a dear sweetheart of a friend came out to all his extended family and friends in a beautifully constructed open letter to us. His vulnerability revealed to me how emotionally fragile we are in this water planet, and how vitally important it is to nurture relationships like tender sprouting plants rather than seeking to conquer one another in any fashion…a deeply ingrained pattern in me that requires a complete change in all that I do.

So, while I’m practicing communicating  kindly with you, should I slip into familiar and comfortable patterns, please hold up this sign…for I want to…and I do.

%d bloggers like this: