“A gift consists not in what is done or given, but in the intention of the giver or doer.”
-Lucius Annaeus Seneca
How to say what we mean without picking a fight
We all have intentions. Face it- whether ill or good is of consequence one way or the other, but we all have them just the same.
It’s ok to admit it, really. We all know it but still, we act surprised as can be when it slaps us in the face. But, what if everyone just finally grew a set and said what they really meant?
Tissue sales would triple, assaults would spike, jails and hospitals fill to their limit, and a whole mess of hurt feelings remains.
Wow! Maybe not such an aggressive path.
There is a simpler way to healthy, productive communication. One where each individual involved feels like they’ve been both included and heard and everyone walks away better off, or…
The other, in which one person carelessly picks a fight over trying to control the situation and “have it their way.”
Which one would you prefer? Civilized or Chaotic?
Speak now or forever hold a grudge
We are all familiar with the feeling of being railroaded or coerced into a situation or agreement we don’t necessarily feel comfortable. Sometimes, it is a matter of authority versus diminutive such as laws and institutional rules. But sometimes, it is that we did not speak our mind clearly.
At the start of any relationship, we have a choice to make. We can either:
- Speak our truth and set healthy boundaries for ourselves
- Hold our feelings and words and suffer with what we get
Not a whole lot of wiggle room there. We either be part of the creation process or we essentially relinquish all say. Or at least, we have a huge uphill battle to regain our control once we’ve frivolously pissed it away.
One thing is for sure, if you chose to roll the dice and give up your power in setting the tone, there will come a day when you ended up feeling resentment towards either yourself, your partner, or both.
Civil debate & conversation tips for healthier relationships
So, we know we need to set healthy boundaries based on our personal beliefs and moral code, right?
Yet, how do we know what those are? How do we find a compromise differences arise? And, how do we communicate those sentiments to others in an open and positive manner?
5 Ways to Communicate with Intention
- Stay Calm: Anytime things get stressful, we can all tend to get a bit edgy. Oftentimes, we get so riled up about things that we make a tricky situation worse by catching an attitude or taking immediate offense. Take a deep breath and remain calm.
- Remain Open-minded: Too often once we’ve heard something we disagree with, we instantly shut down and dig our heels in. By refusing to further communicate, not only have we lost our chance at finding a compromise but we may have also incidentally closed all options to us in doing so.
- Have a Plan: Know what you want going into it. Sounds easy, right? But, the sad reality (and the reason this made the list) is that most of us are not fully in-tune with our internal feelings and desires. We think we know. Yet, most of the time we are merely reacting to the situation after the fact.
- Communicate Your Expectations: Right, we all know expectations are just invited disappointments. However, when engaging in a debate or compromise or negotiation, one has to have some set idea of their desired outcome without having too much attachment to the exact plan. This way we know what we want, what we’re willing to give up, and what we are willing to trade off.
- Be Firm Yet Fair: When we are talking about our personal boundaries and moral reservations, our needs, and desires it can be tough to let something go to compromise. We might feel we are losing our say. Still, when you take a step back and look at the bigger picture, what we should be shooting for is an even trade off. So if our partner wants us to stay home on Friday nights, and we want to go to a concert in a few weeks then perhaps suggest to stay in with the exception of that particular night. Or offer to spend other time together and give specific ideas, not just vague answers.
*One added thought: Be prepared to listen as much as you talk, give as much as you take, and above all else…Speak with compassion and understanding and love.
Communication with the ones we love, or even the ones we work with or for can be a tricky track. Especially so, when we have an emotional or vested interest in the subject and/or outcome.
However, by starting openly and honestly to communicate our intentions and saying what we need to say without starting a fight or instigating bad blood or emotions can satisfy even the toughest of compromises.
If all parties to the discussion act in a positive, open-minded, and communicative manner there is no mountain too high to have to climb to be successful.