Hello Compassionate Communicators!

We hope you are staying warm this winter. I often find myself staying indoors way too often in winter, and yearning for more real connection.

So for this post, I wanted to share some insights on how to start doing that, with the conversations already happening in your life.

Authentic Relating Tidbits

So often in our interactions, we wind up in disagreements or misunderstandings because we make inaccurate assumptions about what someone means, or we hide our feelings about what we heard.

How do we make our communication at work or at home more effective, intimate or co-creative?

Two foundational steps we find work consistently are to:

1) Show the other person that you heard them and get what they mean

2) Share what you feel and want in response

Then discuss and repeat.

Sounds pretty simple right? I can’t tell you how uncommon this can be to do well, especially when the heat is on.

Here’s a work example: Your boss tells you on Friday he needs a proposal for the Monday morning meeting.

You could assume your boss forgot you were going away with family for the weekend or that (s)he doesn’t care about you. You react in a way you may regret, or more likely bury your feelings of resentment.

Or you could say something like…

1) “I hear how urgent this is and it sounds like you need me to work the weekend to make this happen.”

2) “I get the importance of getting this done and… I have a trip planned with family, and flights already scheduled so I feel stressed and upset about letting my family down if I do this. Can we discuss the options and what makes sense? I am struggling with my commitments here.”

A complementary home example:

Your partner is mad at you for canceling your family weekend for the 2nd time due to work. You could argue that you are working this hard so you can pay the bills for the family, etc… which the other side has come to expect to hear and argue about.

Or you could say…

1) “I hear you that you were really looking forward to this weekend. I imagine you feel disappointed, hurt and upset with me. Or think I’m not caring enough or prioritizing our time together.”

2) “I feel disappointed too, at losing this time together. I want to hear what else this brings up for you. As you know, my work is also important, so let’s make better make choices and priorities that we can both embrace. And I want to find ways that I can make this up to you.”

Obviously, the second alternative in both cases would create more connection and possibilities following the steps outlined. But here’s the rub and it won’t surprise you – it is not so easy to pull off the better alternative when you feel stressed, triggered or reactive.

We have seen people try it many times and it can come across as insincere, mechanical or patronizing, if they are still irritated. The next time you are stressed, try to calmly speak your truth, listen and genuinely empathize with the other person and see how easily it comes through or is received.

This is where practice is key. So I want to give you some simple phrases to try out and see how they work.

The key tidbits here to borrow and practice are…

1) I heard you say…

or….this is what I think I’m hearing, is that right?

 2) Hearing that I feel… and I want.

or… I’m hoping for…or would you consider…

I invite you to practice using those two phrases every day with 2 or 3 people, for a week or two and see what happens, what you learn and what impact it has on your connection with the people in your life.

The simplicity here is deceptive because the practice will save you when the heat is on. Without this grounding of practice, most of us will flounder. I certainly have many times in the past.

Share Your Gems 

Try it and let your community know how it goes. What worked, what didn’t? Where did you get stuck or reactive? How did the other side respond? What other suggestions do you have?

Feel free to share this on our Facebook page…


Learning More

Got the basics and want to dive in deeper? Getting live feedback and insights on these practices and making adjustments until you get really good at them is what you will learn in our intro weekends and/or the Art of Circling Practitioner Training.

Getting the other person by sharing what you heard is the first level of what we call The Explorer: Getting Someone’s World.

Sharing what you feel and want are some of the basic skills of Sovereign: Your Presence.

You can find information on our upcoming Workshops and Intro Events on our website and/or our Facebook page.

Come join us and experience the changes first hand in how you relate with the people in your life.


Jon Cotton,

and The Circling Institute

“Listening is a magnetic and strange thing, a creative force. The friends who listen to us are the ones we move toward. When we are listened to, it creates us, makes us unfold and expand.”

–Karl A. Menniger