Kathy Ziola2016 WAS A BRUTAL YEAR for relationships in this country.  With so much focus on political divisiveness, we took many steps backward in civility.

It’s time to repair the damage.

That’s why I was so intrigued by a presentation I saw this week from Kathy Ziola at the ICF Colorado meeting.

Kathy has spent many years studying and teaching about Compassionate Conversations.  As the head of Communication Works in Denver, she is dedicated to non-violent communication.

The fact that this is even an area of research just blows me away.  I happen to think that communication is the source and mechanism of many problems we experience as humans.  So it shouldn’t be surprising that this can also be the fix to those same problems.

What I learned from Kathy is that compassionate communication isn’t about avoiding the uncomfortable.  It’s not about being feel-good or polite.

First, it’s about understanding the relationship between words and feelings.  Because they reflect each other.

My next lesson was that it starts by being compassionate with my own feelings.

Let’s say that I’m uncomfortable with having a particular discussion with a family member.  What feelings are at the core of that?  Well, I don’t want to rock the boat.  I don’t want to damage the relationship.

But those are negative interpretations.  On the positive side, it comes down to the fact that I value stability, and the relationship of love overrides almost everything else.

When I realize that, I can be compassionate with myself.  Those are good, honorable qualities.

And that helps me to recognize what I can honor in the other person as well.  It may not be the same as my list, but it’s still positive and honorable and – in Kathy’s words – beautiful.

It’s an amazing transformation of viewpoint.  It removes barriers.

So give some thought to how you’re being blocked on important topics.  What beautiful needs are being honored in the place where you’re stuck?

And what happens when you recognize that in yourself and the other person?