Communicating when it’s difficult

When it comes to communicating around a difficult situation or personal challenge I find the following piece of wisdom most helpful:

He who seeks good finds goodwill (favour)” Proverbs 11:29

Attitude is everything. When we approach a difficult communication situation with the attitude that we are “seeking good” – to understand the other, to communicate with respect, to take responsibility for our own thoughts, feelings and behaviours, to find a good way forward for both parties – we will find “goodwill” or  favour.

Here are 7 simple principals and strategies that expand on this one key idea:

  1. Seek to understand the other.
  2. Ask open questions – can you tell me what’s going on for you?
  3. Listen, re-state (what you’ve heard, is it what was intended), respond
  4. Use “I” language – don’t blame the other, take responsibility for your own feelings, thoughts and behaviours – when X happened, I felt Y, I would prefer Z – can we talk about this
  5. Stay open but guard your heart if the other is unable to take responsibility for their feelings, thoughts and behaviours
  6. Remember we are all a work in progress – we all carry within us a world and history that is complex, layered and unseen but we share similar fears, desires and needs
  7. Treat each other with respect – the way you yourself would like to be treated.

The ‘golden rule’ (seek good; treat each other with respect) never goes out of fashion.

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