Compassionate Communication

2016.06.12 Compassionate Communication
By Rev. Lauri Boyd, Minister, Unity of Columbia, MO

“Love is not directional; it always flows inward and outward simultaneously. Transforming our self and transforming our relationships are simply two dimensions of the same process. Compassion is the key: Compassion for self, as well as for others. Compassionate Communication is love in expression.”

Living Originally: Ten Spiritual Practices to Transform Your Life by Rev. Robert Brumet

Based on the Buddhist practice of Right Speech, compassionate communication is defined as speech which supports spiritual practice and leads to transformation. The practice incorporates both speech and deep listening.

According to the Buddha, right speech always has five characteristics:

  1. Well-intended – It comes out of an intention to build up, not tear down.
  2. True – It is not exaggerated or taken out of context. Neither is it an interpretation or story.
  3. Beneficial – Its purpose is to help things get better, not worse.
  4. Timely – It is not driven by impulse.
  5. Not harsh – It can be firm. It can confront injustice. It can even acknowledge anger. But, it is not harsh or cruel or sarcastic.

Robert Brumet summarizes this nicely in his book. He suggests that before we speak, we ask ourselves three simple questions:  Is it true? Is it kind? Is it necessary?  If we cannot answer yes to all three questions, we have the opportunity to consider what might be driving our desire to speak. It is possible we have uncovered an inner wound that is ready to be healed. We can take this opportunity to practice radical self-awareness, deep self-acceptance, unlimited forgiveness, and universal benevolence.

Compassionate communication also incorporates the practice of deep listening. This is a form of listening that moves beyond simply hearing, beyond the superficial social interactions we engage in, and even beyond so-called ‘active’ listening skills. Rather, it is a practice that requires both the speaker and listener to enter into a field of opening to Spirit as it speaks to both of us. It is a complete opening of mind, heart and soul. It is a practice of love. Compassionate Communication is love in expression.

Have you had an experience of compassionate communication that was transformative for you?

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