I saw a funny cartoon about communication posted on a friend’s Facebook wall. It’s called If You Want to Say Thank You, Don’t Say Sorry.
This cartoon caught my attention, not only because it has to do with communication, but because I used to be notorious for saying “sorry” all…the…time! It was my go to word, whenever there was a moment of vulnerability, openness, and realness out would pop the word “sorry”. People would comment on it, point it out, tell me I should stop saying “sorry”, but that would only make the “sorry” stronger and louder.
But as my eyes travel down the panels, I am struck by how much we all need to hear and digest the truth in this cartoon:
Say what you mean, not what you fear.
I hear partners fighting, and one says to the other: “So now you’re saying you won’t support me!?” when what they mean is “I’m terrified because I don’t know how to do this without you.”
I hear parents yell at their kids: “With these grades you’ll never go to college!” when what they mean is “I’m worried and I want to know how to help you.”
I hear bosses say to their employees: “If that project isn’t finished by 5 we’re screwed.” when what they mean is “I really need your help, I am in a bind and I really need this done by 5.”
And yes, I hear friends say to one another: “Sorry, I’m so needy.” when what they mean is “Wow, I’m really moved & touched by how much you care and love me.”
Why do we say what we fear? For some of us it’s because all we do is think about our fears. For some of us it’s because we’re too embarrassed or ashamed of how vulnerable our true feelings are. For some of us it’s because we’ve grown accustomed to rejecting ourselves in order to avoid being rejected by others.
So how can you tell what it is you really mean? Well, what are your feelings? Not your thoughts, your feelings. Okay. Now what are you really looking for? What positive thing are you most desiring out of this situation? What is your highest value here? There you go.
When you say what you mean, you give others a chance to do the same. When you say what you mean, you stop fueling the fear inside your head. When you say what you mean, you invite people closer instead of pushing them away.
So practice. Practice, practice, practice. It’s gonna take time, and you’re gonna make mistakes. And that’s okay because you can always try again. So instead of saying “this is too hard to do” say “I’m struggling, and I really want to get better at this.”
KindCommunication.org is a project by a close friend of Wiki World Order, Alex Leach. WWO fully supports the study, practice, and teaching of non-violent communication as one of the core solutions which already exists.