Respect, empathy, and compassion as multiple parts of a system:
- We need understanding or respect for others. Respect means I don't have to have experienced what someone else has in order for it to be true.
- We use empathy to "see" things from another's perspective, not my perspective of their perspective.
- Compassion as "suffering with" others -- holding the awareness of another's experience and coming alongside them. This results in action not simply knowledge.
INQUIRE about others' experience -- instead of telling someone how they should feel or think YOU can ask questions to improve the clarity of YOUR understanding of THEIR experience. This is a way in which we can "build" our skill in terms of having empathy for others. Seek to understand, not judge.
Have REGARD for others' experiences -- this is evidence of respect. It is easy to use ourselves to make sense of what we don't know; therefore, we need to learn how to consider the direction of the "lens" we use.
Collaboration as a key component of respect and empathy. How do we make sense of others' perspectives or experiences?
Challenges with feedback from others:
- Invalidation ==> telling someone that they shouldn't feel or think what they do, in fact, think or feel.
- We are apt to struggle with an undercurrent of distrust in one's self when we get feedback like this from others.
Indicator lights of having difficulty giving respect, empathy, or compassion with ourselves and others.
- Arguing or poor communication
- Depression (cognitive rigidity)
- Guilt as reflection of giving something I don't have to give or not giving someone what they want
- Anxiety (chaos)
We can acquire and cultivate the skills of respect, empathy, and compassion. We don't improve any skill we don't practice. How can we do things differently relationally?
- Create clear expectations for ourselves and others. Use clarity to help manage these differently
- Co-operate with others
Dr. John Gottman’s 4 horsemen in (marital/couple) relationships:
- Criticism - negative judgments in absolute terms
- Defensiveness - avoiding responsibility or blaming others
- Contempt - a fundamental sense of disrespect, ridicule or disgust. Name calling -- erodes the fabric of a relationship. (ex. mean-spirited sarcasm or eye rolling) **This is the most problematic in a relationship.
- Stonewalling - putting a wall between you and your partner
Being able to identify the Four Horsemen in your conflict discussions is a necessary first step to eliminating them, but this knowledge is not enough. To drive away destructive communication and conflict patterns, you must replace them with healthy, productive ones.
Fortunately, each horseman has a proven positive behavior that will counteract negativity.
This infographic highlights some of Dr. John Gottman’s most notable research findings on marriage and couple relationships.
What's a good action plan for change? Self-awareness is key place to start.