In the revolutionary new book, How God Changes Your Brain, Andrew Newberg, M.D. and Mark Robert Waldman share in an easy-to-read format, their latest research evidence how spiritual practices better your physical and emotional health. In addition, they offer 21 strategies for keeping the peace through Compassionate Communication.
“Both men and women are empathic and caring in different ways in different styles,” says Waldman. “We oftentimes don’t understand or recognize that everyone has a different sense of caring, of listening from each other. We tend to assume that the other person should be thinking, meaning, or feeling the same way that we do. It’s important in our work we keep pointing out that each human brain is neurologically wired in an original way. And every single word we have in our language, has a very personal and unique meaning that is different to everyone else.”
Here are eight of the 21 strategies in How God Changes Your Brain to help you keep the peace in your relationship:
Pick the Right Time. Ask yourself, “Can my partner hear me and respond to me at this time?” If not, consider waiting for a better time. Avoid discussing difficult issues when you first wake up, at meals, before going to work or right afterward, and not before going to sleep.
Open your dialogue with kindness. Begin any confrontation with an expression of respect by giving a compliment, a small gift, or a tender embrace. This is essential because it lets your partner know you are entering the dispute with a willingness to protect the underlying love that you share.
Avoid provocative language. No insults. No accusations. No denunciations. No condemnations. No character assassinations. No sarcasm. No swearing. No threats. No yelling. Ask your partner to tell you if your communication feels like an attack–you’ll be surprised how often the other person will feel defensive by a communication style you’re not even aware of.
Soften the tone of your voice. Pay close attention to your voice as you speak. Hostility can be communicated through tone as well as words. Soothing, gentle speech goes a long way in getting your message across. And slow down; fast talking makes it more difficult for the other person to take things in.
Be specific. Make a list of the issues you want to address, but focus on one problem at a time. If you’re talking about a hurtful statement your partner recently made, for example, don’t bring up other events from the past. Stay focused on the specific event that occurred. Provide concrete details and complete explanations of the problem and ways in which it can be solved.
Don’t monopolize the conversation. Talk briefly, then let your partner talk.
Avoid mind-reading. Don’t presume that you know what your partner thinks or feels. Ask questions instead.
Ask for clarification. If you are unclear about what your partner is saying, ask him or her to restate the issue. Ask more specific details so your partner can illuminate the important points. But do so in a compassionate way.