Monday, February 28, 2011

Peace At Home Through Mindful Conversation

Conversation Peace: Improving Your Relationships One Word at a TimeAs far as conversation goes, we all need skills.

And here is where you can find them.

I am currently taking a class called: Conversation Peace, which corresponds with a book of the same title. 

I was excited to take this class because who couldn't use better skills in keeping the peace at home through better communication.

Here are some things I have learned in the class so far:

The author, Mary A. Kassian feels that our communication problems are, at their deepest root, spiritual problems and her book is based around that idea.

1. Our words steer us. What we talk is where we will walk. If we use our tongues for good , we will head in the right direction and vice versa. Our words are the steering wheel of our ship.

2. Words are powerful. Words can heal, inspire, cause conflict, break relationships, destroy lives, bring peace or conflict, determine the destiny of individuals, families, and nations. We must be master of our words. An undisciplined tongue can cause lots of damage.  It's amazing how much power we hold (our words) to build (improve lives) or tear down (used as a weapon).

3. Our speech should show leadership/confidence and humility/gentleness (strength and compassion).

4. We should never let our words go on autopilot. Mindful words means we are the master of our mind and heart. We should think things through before speaking.  Reckless words can be dangerous. We are responsible for all of our words. No, it is not their fault. We are responsible.

5.  We need to rely on our conscience (feelings of guilt when we've done wrong), feedback from others and God's spirit of truth (what we feel is right) to guide us towards better communication.

4. The Do Nots: Do not say things about others you wouldn't say in front of them. Do not repeat yourself over and over. Do not get in other people's business. Do not brag. Do not lie. Do not start fights. Do not use little jabs to get back or make fun. Do not respond in anger or be defensive. Do not monopolize conversations. Do not ramble on and on. Do not interrupt. Do not tell other people's secrets or repeat private information. Do not tell others about all your aches, pains and troubles unless they can directly help. Do not criticize or find fault. Do not focus on the bad. Do not complain all the time. Do not let others know how inconvenienced you were. Do not assume. Do not hold grudges. Do not be malicious. Do not fake compliments. Do not swear or use foul language. Don't get offended easily. Do not be smug and feel you need to be right all the time.

5. The Dos: Spend time listening, asking questions, looking people in the eye, saying sorry if needed, give sincere compliments, repeat good things about others, share the happy version of the story, tell the truth, stay quiet when needed, include people, fix your own problems, look for the best, give all the information that is needed, forgive and forget, invite, speak cheerfully, give people the benefit of the doubt, express gratitude and appreciation

6. Understand that your words, tone and facial expression are all included in language. Pay attention to all three when you communicate.

7. Seek to understand. You don't have to agree.

8. Use "I" words; such as, I feel or I don't understand, etc. instead of "You" statements; such as "You make me mad."

9. What comes out of our mouth is what is in the heart. So to fix our words, we need to fix our heart first. Figure out the root of the problem and start there. Root out envy pride, deceit, judgement, impatience, malice, arrogance, bitterness and lack of self-control. Cleaning up your behavior is a good place to start. Then when your behavior is in line with your values you can work on your attitude and ask God for a gentle, forgiving heart.

10. The faulty root problem (anger, impatience, bitterness) leads to faulty speech (criticisms, mocking, exaggeration, put-downs) which leads to faulty beliefs (I know his motives, I am better, I have the right to judge him, I have the right to be resentful). The truth is you have the right and the blessing to forgive, we all have faults, let God judge, try a new solution and let the bitterness go.

11. It is a lifelong process to continually inspect our hearts (the root, speech and beliefs we hold). Aim for excellence.

12. Listening. Stay in the present moment. Focus on their words and your words. Show your attention and mindfulness. Slow down. Show trust. Don't tell other people what to do or how to fix it. Don't tell them they are wrong or making a big deal out of nothing. Pay attention more to body language then actual words. Extract the main thoughts of the one speaking. Echo and inquire.

13. There are four common concerns that motivate people to behave: Control (over our own lives and others lives), Connection (with others), Competence (capable/talented) and Contribution (to society, to family, etc.). Figure out the motivating factor behind their words.

14. Recognize differences between men and women. Women are often driven by connection/feelings. Men are often driven by facts, information and accomplishments.

This only leads us up to chapter 9, which is where I am in the class right now. There are 25 chapters in the book (and about 9 more classes left).

If you would like to continue learning about this subject with me and you enjoy learning about communication with a spiritual/bible based theme then this is the book for you.


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