Archive | January, 2013

The slide from disagreement to ‘I HATE YOU’

18 Jan

It happens.  A woman in a recent workshop asked about:

‘Having an argument and ending with saying: ‘I HATE YOU.’

The best thoughts on this slippery, painful, communication slide come from Melissa, a twenty-something middle school teacher outside of Portland, OR.   I’ve never met Melissa, just heard about her response from Laura, a mutual friend about a year ago.  I found this so brilliant it’s been in the back of mind since then.

Here’s the scenario:

Melissa was startled by all the conflict – and resulting tears – amongst her girls.  Best friends one day, declared ‘I hate you’ enemies the next.

So (and here’s the brilliant part):  she ASKED a student proclaiming her hate one day what the deal was.  (forgive the paraphrasing);

‘Do you really hate her?’

‘No’

‘Then what?’

‘I just don’t want to sit next to her at lunch every day.’

‘Then why don’t you just tell her that?’

Problem solved!  (Or for the moment!)  Melissa identified the key to help her student express her true needs, saving the relationship and more importantly teaching her students to say what they mean without being engulfed in the emotion.

joycelyn-ainee.blogspot.com

Wow!  It’s all so simple – yet not.  After hearing this I was reminded how many times I say things I don’t mean, but don’t have the time or where-with-all to stop and think through what I’m feeling, thinking, and what I want.

Of course, at this stage of my life, I usually say nothing.

And that’s no better.  In fact it is worse.

So what’s the key?  Or should I say Melissa’s key?  Good old-fashioned ‘I statements’:

Sharing the facts (using Melissa’s example):  When you sit with me at lunch everyday

I feel:  (ah, the emotions of a middle school girl):  uncomfortable?  unhappy?

And I realize most girls – most people don’t talk like this anymore.  Then again, maybe we need to both simplify and focus our talk for better communication.  

What I want:  To sit with other girls sometimes, and to sit with you sometimes.

Because:  I want to be friends with you and also be friends with other girls.

I didn’t get a chance to share this in the 45-minute workshop with the woman in need.  But over and over I realize how important it is to say what we mean and hope to be heard.  Or rather hope the receiver is open and listening.  And that’s a whole other issue!

I’m going to use this more.  I need to use this more.

What’s your greatest communication challenge?  

Email me at katz.communicat@gmail.com  and I’ll write the anonymous response here!

Here’s to 2013 being a year of saying what you mean when you need to to get what your values met!

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Empathy: Be kind

7 Jan

I love this quote, so key, so true of empathy:

Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a great battle.
by Saint Philo of Alexandria

(and recently read in the book, ‘The other side of the world’, by Jay Neugeboren)

I always think of empathy as the key to connecting and understanding others – and even myself.  While this post is from one of my other blogs:  http://identity5772.wordpress.com, it certainly is essential to communication.  And what’s more fashionable than shoes, but good communication!

Here’s to blister-free walking this week!

Shes!  When did shoes become the go-to destination for journeys to nirvana?  When did well-appointed heels turn cads into princes and transform us plain girls to ‘sex-y in the city’?   Or has footwear always been as important to fashion as the saying: ‘Don’t judge me until you’ve walked a mile in my shoes’  has been to identity and peace?

Does our penchant for buying shoes, amassing Imelda Marcos or Carrie Bradshaw sized collections speak to our need to understand others?   Do new shoes provide  the potential and ability to walk that mile to understanding?

My footwear reflects my soul and mirrors my identity.  My journeys are on

Shoes fit for my very long journeys

foot and I’ve learned the hard way that Jimmy Choos and Manolo Blahnik’s derail my  joy into train wrecks.

Footwear can define identity, and, is just as complicated.   I recently told a dear friend, ‘we may wear the same size, but we like and wear very different shoes – literally and figuratively’.

It can be hard to understand someone you love.  Someone  whose footwear appears interchangeable with your own.  Different styles, different

One pre-Xmas night, a group of young men were camped in front of a shoe store on 34th Street in Manhattan. They were spending the night to be first in line to buy the ‘newest’ sneakers. What kind? What did they look like? No-one knew – just that they wanted them.

toes add difficulty relating to the owner of the heart-pumping-blood to those other  toes. As a species focusing on souls, rather than soles, and the miles journeyed, can surely help promote listening, peace and, understanding identity.

Empathy, the ability to put yourself into someone else’s shoes, to listen for  identity without bias or judgement.   Knowing and doing are two totally different things.

Empathy can improve communication and connection, if that  first giant step is taken:  to understand what someone else is feeling or what they need.

Swapping metaphoric  ‘shoes’:  Would any genocide occur if perpetrators imagined themselves, or their mothers, or wives, or children as victims?  Would they say ‘NO’ to crimes of hate?

This must be a key to peace as I wrote about in my recent post ‘Peace Requires Listening’.

Daniel Lubetzky,CEO of Kind Bars and PeaceWorks remarked (one of) the key to Palestinian-Israeli peace is for Israeli’s to listen to Palestinian needs.  I think a shoe swap and long survival hike might help.

I’ve often found empathy, along with blisters, after finding myself on a path with someone I’ve judged.  ‘Blisters’ force me to slow down, open my eyes, acknowledge the pain.

It’s painful to listen if we are not sure of our identity, or we are not on firm footing ourselves. In Vilna, Lithuania (‘Dinner in Vilna’), Lilly said she was unhappy before she focused her identity and connected with Judaism.

Some say shoe shopping, especially during a sale, is a religious experience. There are other ways to worship.

Empathy.  Walking that metaphoric mile.  Several years ago, I discovered the cure:

Imagine these pills shaped like SHOES: Empathy pills!

A pill.

A shoe-shaped empathy pill.  

Mid-judgement, mid-hate action, a quick pill pop would change everything with, ‘Here, walk a mile in my shoes.  Have an empathy pill.’

As soon as a pharmaceutical company gets back to me, I’ll take your orders.

In the meantime, how has a pair of shoes helped you understand others, or, shaped or defined your identity? 

What leg of your journey has developed your empathy?