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Gillian Sanger

Communicating our feelings and needs - best practices

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Something we use in education to teach kids about restorative practices are "I" statements.  What I find purposeful here is that there is no blame, just a laying bare of feelings brought up by someone else's actions, words, or even thoughts.  I try to remember in times of stress or frustration to use it with my children as well as my partner (who lives at a distance).  Saying something like, "I feel ignored when you leave your dirty towel on the floor" gives my teenage son way more pause than "You left your towel on the floor again!  What is the matter with you?"  This way, he can note how his actions (or in this case, his inaction) made me feel, and it gives him the chance to repair it.

There is also a place for this type of interaction when asking for something we need, be it a on the physical or emotional plane.  To a loved one, it might sound like, "I am feeling a little disconnected.  Can we carve out some time for coffee this week?" instead of the defensive or aggressive, "You're always so busy!  You never have any time for me.  I must not be that important!"  See the difference?  Same need, communicated from a place of honesty and vulnerability.  It invites a coming together.

Not always easy, but definitely worth a try!

Edited by Rachel
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Wonderful practice @Rachel. Thank you for sharing! I agree - it's important to stay focused on our own experience rather than focusing on the other's 'wrongdoing'. Easier said than done sometimes.

I've also found Dr. Marshall Rosenberg's 'Needs Inventory' really helpful for communication. It is part of what is now called Non-Violent Communication. Getting to know what we need in any situation helps us to stay focused on our personal experience - https://www.cnvc.org/training/resource/needs-inventory

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