3 Ways to Communicate Lovingly in Vulnerable Situations
You know you are a loving person. You get how rewarding it is to have a loving conversation with someone and to feel like you are connecting and seeing one another as loving human beings. Maybe you find it easier to feel a sense of ease and care in your communication with strangers, like the cashier at the store or someone on a bus or train.
Of course, you care deeply about your family and friends. Yet, sometimes it’s so challenging to maintain your loving presence with them and express yourself in full congruence with your heart.
This is because we feel more vulnerable with people who occupy a special place in our hearts. Their words and actions have a much bigger impact on us than the words from someone with whom we haven’t shared a history, adventures, challenges and joys.
Yet, it is precisely in those situations when we feel most vulnerable that love and loving communication is most needed.
If we can keep our hearts open to ourselves and others when we feel vulnerable, we will not express ourselves with judgment, criticism, accusation, defensiveness or use other survival strategies that lead to feeling separate and that can thwart the connection we so want to maintain.
Inspired by the 50th anniversary of the exuberant summer of love in San Francisco and the counterculture of the time that believed in the transformative power of love, I’m offering you 3 Ways to Communicate Lovingly in Vulnerable Situations.
Vulnerable situations vary for every person, yet these situations share common signs: a sense of shakiness, a tightness in the throat, the inability to let words flow with ease, the thought of being too exposed, among others.
In my work with clients, I keep hearing about these three situations in which one of the speakers feels vulnerable. Here are some suggestions as to how to communicate lovingly in these three contexts:
1. Say 'thank you' with authenticity when someone shares with you something that is uncomfortable for you to hear.
If your partner tells you they are frustrated with you; your boss lets you know she thought you could have done a better job; or your teenage son tells you he lied to you about where he was after school…
Take a deep breath all the way down into your belly and start responding by saying “thank you.”
If, instead of thanking them, you tell your partner they should not be frustrated with you, or you react passive aggressively with your boss, or you start chastising your son, then you are making it unsafe for them to be honest with you. The chances of them being honest with you in the future decreases each time you react negatively.
If you value honesty, don’t punish others when they are honest with you, even if you don’t like what you are hearing. Honesty is a sign of love and trust. Thank them for trusting you could hear their honest message!
2. Listen without interrupting when someone tells you about a challenging experience.
When a close friend or a loved one tells you about a challenging experience they had, they are most likely not asking for advice or for a similar experience you had in the past.
They are probably sharing about this experience with you because they need to have someone see them, understand them or just hold space for them to take it off their chest.
If you interrupt by giving unsolicited advice, or by telling them about something comparable that happened to you or someone you know, you stop being present for them. Being present for another human being is an act of love.
So, just listen to what your loved one is sharing and when they are done, you can simply acknowledge how difficult that experience must have been for them.
3. Express gratitude fully and more frequently.
In the current mainstream culture of self-sufficiency and independence, it can feel surprisingly vulnerable or even “corny” to express gratitude fully to those who help us or enrich our lives.
Yet, you probably know how loving it feels to receive words of appreciation from someone we’ve helped in some way.
You don’t have to wait until Thanksgiving to say thank you! Let those who support you or contribute to your life know they are doing so and mention the specific ways in which they do.
If I tell you right now, “hey, you are awesome for reading my blog”, that might give you a fleeting sense of being appreciated.
However, if I tell you “thank you for taking the time to read my blog because I write it for you. I have devoted my life to finding ways to being of service to your compassionate, powerful and conscious communication and every time you read this and let me know how this blog contributed for you, my heart really swells and I feel so much trust that I am fulfilling my life’s purpose.”
If you read that, which is 100% true for me, what impact does it have on you?
So, really, let others know how they enrich your life and don’t be vague or stingy with your words of gratitude; rather be specific and loving.
And if you have other ways in which you are loving in your communication, let me know! I get so much joy when I hear from you.
May your communication be loving towards all with whom you share this beautiful Earth.