“In a gentle way, you can shake the world.” ~ Mahatma Gandhi
How does one bring to another’s attention their unhelpful behaviours? I don’t mean “bad” behaviour. There is no judgment here from a position of authority or expertise. It is a deduction of possibilities, a perspective or insight which I hope to bring.
What does a concerned voice sound like? How to express a compassionate and helpful message?
How to deliver a message so it is received not as destructive criticism or have a shaming impact, rather one that brings awareness and inspires future positive actions?
How do I expand another’s horizons rather than inhibit further communication and actions?
Whether we are a parent, colleague, “the boss” or friend, these I hope are considerations which come to mind when we are called to deliver a message which, we suspect with good reason, will be unpleasant.
They will require an understanding or knowledge of that other person, does it not? Who are they? Why did they behave that way? What have their past reactions been? What are their misgivings? What do they fear? All these suggest an existing relationship of a certain depth, and not superficial.
Do we have relationships of this nature, with the people we are in close contact with? With whom we have to parent, guide or lead, collaborate, or support?
Are we willing to also see their perspectives and concerns, their fears and subjective experience? Our perception of who they are may not be their perception of themselves. We must come to understand their experience from where they stand.
Two realisations I come to: while I can be responsible for the message I deliver, I cannot be responsible for how it is received. It requires a certain mindset and receptiveness, a certain acceptance of vulnerability and some courage to appreciate a different perspective. A conversation is ultimately a two-way street.
And perhaps after all these considerations, we see no need to deliver the message.
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