Loving Communication: Sending & Receiving Messages 

by Henry Gregory, Jr. Ph.D, Woodstock, Maryland, U.S.A.

henry gregoryCommunication (from Latin commūnicāre, meaning “to share”) is the activity of conveying information through the exchange of thoughts, messages, or information, as by speech, visuals, signals, writing, or behavior. It is the meaningful exchange of information between two or more living creatures.

Communication requires a sender, a message, and a recipient, and can occur across vast distances in time and space. Communication requires that the communicating parties share an area of communicative commonality. The communication process is complete once the receiver understands the sender’s message.

Communications is a process of sending and receiving messages. At an essential level all messages can be broken down to what the speaker wants. We are always communicating our wants and needs. For instance, when we say hello, we are sending the message that we want attention, acknowledgement or connection.

Communication messages are easier to understand if we start with the assumption that everyone has good intentions. What we mean is that everyone is continually trying to meet his/her needs, and that those needs are both positive and universal by nature. We all have the same basic needs. Abraham Maslow, the humanist psychologist, developed a framework that says each of us has a hierarchy of needs that include physiological (food, water, air, etc.), safety, love and belonging, esteem, and self-actualization needs. We are always trying, consciously and unconsciously, from differing levels of consciousness, to meet those needs. However, our efforts to meet those needs may include behaviors that are healthy or unhealthy, enhancing or destructive, intelligent or unintelligent, at times, depending on where we are in our personal development. The point is that behavior, no matter how reprehensible or meritorious, is based in a person’s positive intent to meet his/her needs.   So even though these efforts are sometimes misinformed, we start with the assumption that all people are trying to meet their own legitimate needs and that all behavior is grounded in good intentions.

When we listen to others with the framework of good intentions, we begin to hear the needs, longings, aspirations of the other. We begin to hear what they need. We begin to know their hearts.

All communications are ultimately negotiations.   They are negotiations in that the speaker is sending a message about what s/he wants and the recipient of the message will either accept the request and/or make a counter offer.

Each of us has negotiables (issues that we are willing to compromise) and non-negotiables (issues that we are not willing to compromise). The non-negotiables may represent values and principles that we consider essential for our well-being. While it is appropriate and necessary to have some non-negotiables, the more non-negotiables we have, the more rigid we are and less open to true communication we are.   It is easy from this position to talk at people rather than communicate with them out of love.   True communication, loving communication, is a two-way process that requires input from both parties.

Loving communication is respectful and responsive. Too often, communication is damaged because we don’t respond to the speaker’s expressed needs. The negotiation process starts with an acknowledgement of the request or stated need.

 

  1. Listen without interrupting
  2. Pay attention (eye contact and body posture should reflect your attention)
  3. Listen reflectively/actively (repeat to the speaker the message as you understand it). Listen for an opportunity to promote understanding and to connect.
  4. Respond to the speaker, acknowledging what he wants/needs.
  5. Use “I” statements (to accept responsibility and demonstrate ownership of your response)
  6. Make statements, rather than ask questions, to express your viewpoint. (Questions can encourage defensiveness.)
  7. Identify and directly express feelings (facilitating an open flow of energy)

Be Gentle

By Henry and Jannette Gregory

Be gentle with me
I want to be your friend
Be gentle with me
I mean you no harm.

Yes, I know I have disappointed and betrayed you before
I was scared and afraid
Accept that it was not my intention to hurt you
I was trying vainly to care for me

Be gentle with me
Give me benefit of the doubt
Be gentle with me
We are no different

Be gentle with us
We are evolving and growing
Be gentle with us
We are on a journey to wholeness

Be gentle with us
We are connected souls
Be gentle with us
Your Light illumines my path

Be gentle with yourself
Be courageous, compassionate and forgiving
Be gentle with yourself
Acknowledge your efforts and learn from your mistakes

Be gentle with yourself
Act as if you are a representative of the Most High
And so am I.

Henry Gregory, Jr. Ph.D. is a clinical psychologist with extensive experience and expertise as a clinician, educator, trainer, consultant and researcher in a number of service areas including substance abuse, HIV/AIDS, criminal justice, juvenile justice, child welfare, school-based mental health, and behavioral health. Currently, Dr. Gregory is an assistant professor at the University of Maryland, School of Nursing, teaching individual and family therapy. He also provides consultation and training to public and private agencies and direct services to individuals and families through his own organization, the Rafiki Consortium, LLC. www.rafikiconsortium.com. Dr. Gregory and his wife Jannette have practiced Agnihotra and the Fivefold Path for the past 35 years.