Would you ever think of questioning that rule? In life, there are certain things we can pretty much all agree on – basic rules for sane living. No hot dogs in the pool. No pooping on the living room rug. It is helpful to need not debate over these matters. We can move on to higher aspirations.
Yet, when it comes to human interactions, we have an epidemic of people who fall asleep at the wheel while the motor is still running – namely, their mouth. It is the hardest thing, it seems, for us humans to follow – and get others to follow – basic safety rules for considerate and effective use of language.
With careless speech, thoughtless submission to habituated, negative ways of communicating, we ostensibly take hot dogs into the pool. We poop on the living room rug. Worse, we even poop in the pool.
The pool, the rug, signify the space between people, the connection, the atmosphere of the shared energy. In order for human society and relationships to function well, there needs to be a basic trust of shared responsibility to create sanity in that space. Without that, we can only stay in survival and self-protection mode, never knowing when the next landmine will come, and never getting to deeper and higher human potential.
And that is where the human race is pervasively stuck. In self-protection mode. Albeit for good reason, but destructive nonetheless. Defensiveness rules the day, and it’s drinking buddy, offensiveness. You can find them at the far end of the bar every day as soon as the open sign flicks on. Day drinking, they do. But I digress.
It is all-too-typical/common/rampant to hear someone say something rude, sarcastic, cutting, mean, overall just negative, and to use raised voices. Aggressive communication.
I understand, believe me, that emotions run strong underneath these behaviors (see my eBook, 3 Massive Mistakes Most Couples Make, available via my email list on my website, and, 7 Steps Out of Relationship Triggers, chapter one of which is available on same email list, entire eBook coming soon on website). Emotional reactivity is my number one specialty in my practice. But people, we have to start abiding by some very basic rules if we are to get anywhere with each other.
Try these, from my manifesto, Communication Jewels:
- No blaming
- No sarcasm
- No aggressive tone
- No eye-rolling or other dismissive facial expressions
Just try that for a day or two. See how much you sweat. If you make an earnest effort, the sweat will be about trying to find what to say, and how to say it. Try these:
- Yes to “I” messages: “When you (insert objective, descriptive action), I (insert feelings, thoughts).”
- Yes to stating feelings, needs and requests clearly and directly: “I need some quiet time alone for a few minutes.” “I feel agitated right now; would you be willing to take a break from this talk until later?” “I need more calm; would you be willing to lower your voice?”
- Yes to owning your own stuff: “I realize I just slipped – I raised my voice. I own that and I’ll lower my voice now.”
Again, try these simple, basic rules for sane, effective communication between humans for a few days. It’ll actually present some challenges – our filters have become very dirty from so many hot dogs in the pool, and, well, other stuff. But if we can remember to not snack in the deep end, and not evacuate in the parlor, I think we can handle not spewing toxic fumes into the room just because we got upset.
It’s hard, but the rewards are nothing short of true peace, love, and joy – the natural state of human consciousness. That’s all.