Attitudes in Communication from the Heart

  1. Improving the Relationship. You want to work thru the difficulty to improve your relationship with the person. You aren’t looking to assign blame for the problem but to be heard and reconnect. You want to find a resolution that feels good to both of you.
  2. Understanding The Other Person. From an open, curious, and compassionate place, you want to understand what the person might be upset about.
  3. Communicating You. You want to communicate about what you are upset about without hurting the person so that you will be heard.
  4. Responsibility. You are willing to look at what your part may have been in the difficulties with this person, to be open to what they may say to you about your contribution to the problem, even if this hurts you. You are willing to consider working on changing your behavior or growing in ways that will improve things in the future.

Types of Responses to Conflict

Not helpful Helpful
Defending Expressing Yourself
Blaming Requesting
Helping Listening
Accepting Blame Taking Responsibility

Defending. You try to prove that it wasn’t your fault in the hope that the other person will stop blaming you. However, they usually feel that you haven’t heard them and try again.

Expressing Yourself. You explain what your feeling response was to what the person did, possibly including the threat, need, and parts involved.

Blaming. You try to prove that the other person did something bad, wrong, or harmful in the hopes that they will change. You may demand that they change. Instead they usually get defensive, blaming of you, or accepting blame. And they don’t change.

Requesting. You are interested in improving things in the future, not assigning blame for the past. You ask the person to change their behavior in a specific way or work on doing that. This is not a demand. You recognize that the other person may not agree to your request and negotiation may be needed.

Helping. You try to fix or change the other person’s difficult behavior or painful feelings, like a therapist might. This can be helpful if you aren’t in a conflict, and the other person wants your help. However, in a conflict situation, this often comes from a blaming place in you, or even if it doesn’t, it will be experienced that way by the other person, and they will resent you and resist it.

Listening. You want to understand and empathize with what the other person is feeling. If necessary, you guess at their feelings and ask them about your guesses.

Accepting Blame. You take on the blame given to you by the other person in an attempt to please them or because you assume they are right. You do this without considering if you really agree with them or what was going on with you. So you may accept blame that doesn’t belong to you. And to the extent that it was your responsibility, you won’t learn anything from it, and you will probably do it again.

Taking Responsibility. You consider your part in the problem, and decide that you don’t want to act as you did. You explore your parts that were triggered and explain this to the other person. You work with those parts on changing your behavior in the future.