When someone responds with painful sarcasm, criticism, or dismissal you can respond with empathy, or with clarity about your intention, need and request. If you're unable to do this, later you can privately write what they said, identify the feelings and needs of both of you, then write possible responses. This can help you remember to stay with your intention and what’s true for you without getting caught in defensiveness or reactivity.
When asking for respect it helps to first get clear about your interpretations of other's behavior. You can do this by asking about the other's intentions before believing your thoughts. You can also make a clear request for what specifically you want to see happen instead. Read on for more.
When conflict or criticism occurs, we can notice two layers of meaning to create connection: the content and the needs the speaker is holding. When we are able to recognize this --and ideally engage open-heartedly, with curiosity, make clear requests, imagining what they want, no matter how their expression was framed -- we have more opportunity to support the longevity of our relationships, and to decrease our loneliness when together.
Misunderstandings can be painful. We can easily avoid this by checking what the other person understood from what we said, and ask the other person to do the same. Doing this is especially important when it comes to planning, shared decision-making, and when emotions are strong. Also, the more someone knows you, the more they think they already know what you mean -- which can get in the way of really hearing you. Here are a variety of ways to approach this simple strategy.
In general, criticism is a reactive response discomfort. When someone criticizes, they are not yet able or willing take responsibility for their needs. All criticism is a tragic expression of feelings and unmet needs. When you meet that criticism skillfully you not only care for yourself, you can facilitate clarity, and constructive communication, about what the other person is truly asking for.
Sometimes even a very skilled empathy practicitioner can go into offering a non-empathic response, even when asked for empathy. Why? One reason could be that our brains might be less receptive because of unseen forces that affect our brain and relationship with others. This article speaks to the deeper "why" and also to one thing we could do to turn it around...
When we don't like what someone is saying to us, sometimes people encourage us to hear their needs, and "not take it personally" -- and we're inclined to agree. Could "not taking it personally" close our hearts and awareness to others, life and ourselves? Rachelle Lamb invites us to take a closer look at what it's like when we attend to the situation from our hearts, and skillfully reflect upon our actions with tenderness.
Sometimes there are moments when empathy has no effect at all on one another. Why? One reason could be that our brains might be less receptive because of unseen forces that affect our nervous system and relationship with others.
However indirectly expressed, any judgement or criticism is about the person's own thoughts, feelings, needs, and requests.This awareness can help you take people's comments less personally, and give you options: silent self-empathy, standing in your truth, contact and curiosity, and honest expression.