I recently watched a talk given at a conference by Colleen Patrick-Goudreau. Colleen is an author, speaker, and educator with decades of experience under her belt.
This talk focused on how to live in alignment with your own values and stop making excuses for living in any other way. I was blown away by the joyfulness and clarity of Colleen’s communication skills.
One of my biggest take aways from this 50 minute video was that if I’m living with compassion as a value, there’s absolutely no reason to apologize to other people for it.
For example, If I have removed all animal products from my diet because of the horrors of factory farming and the extreme suffering of those innocent, peaceful animals, there is absolutely no reason for me to apologize to anyone for my lifestyle of compassion, even if it inconveniences them.
It doesn’t matter where I am in the world, whose grandmother made me some special chicken soup to eat, or what they might think when I politely decline the offer. I can’t be responsible for someone’s hurt feelings for not eating their chicken soup because I’m living from my values. Values of compassion, wellness, and peace. There are honest and respectful ways to communicate with others who do not share or act on these values. I will share Colleen's 10 strategies for effective communication from her Podcast, "Food For Thought" below.
Animal cruelty and exploitation is a serious issue. Colleen is able to communicate the reality of the situation in a way that is welcoming, nonjudgmental, informative, uplifting, and inspiring.
I tell myself the story that I’m just not a good communicator. The truth is, I can get better by practicing and implementing Colleen’s 10 Strategies for Effective Communication.
The goal here isn’t necessarily to persuade anyone a certain way, but to simply speak my truth and find my unapologetic voice for living the way that I do, while listening to what the other person has to say.
It’s so easy to become emotional and reactive when someone is seemingly disrespectful or hostile in regards to my animal product-free lifestyle. We can all use these communication tools despite what we believe our truths to be, they’re not just for plant-based eaters.
- Create Intention: Before we begin any exchange with another person, we can set the intention for that exchange. Here's an example Colleen gives in her podcast: "To speak my truth respectfully and joyfully without being attached to how that will affect someone else.”
- Practice Active Listening: Giving the other person cues that show I’m listening to them and hearing what they’re saying
- Ask Questions: Makes the other person feel special, important, and heard - Can ask, "Why? What are you afraid of? Why do you think that?"
- Have a Sense of Humor: People can deal with discomfort by making jokes, which can lighten up a tense situation. If appropriate, we can laugh together.
- Know Where You End and the Other Person Begins: Don’t be attached to how speaking your truth will affect another person. On the other hand, let someone else have their say without getting worked up
- Find Common Ground: No matter who we're speaking with, we're guaranteed to have something in common. We can try to discover what those things are and find the common ground that will help us relate to one another better.
- Have Courage and Confidence in Your Convictions: Be honest, confident and humble: "I don’t agree, I haven’t read that particular article but I do know this…" Be sensitive and speak your truth.
- Clarify What You’re Hearing: We can often think we've heard something that was never even actually said. Ask questions to make sure what you're hearing is what the other person is actually meaning to say.
- Speak from the I: When making statements about people, it's better to say, "I or we do such and such," rather than, "When you do this, this happens." It's accusatory to speak from the you. Speak from the I or the we to be more relatable.
- DO NOT Have Philosophical Debates Online: Can’t really apply these other communication strategies via written text online. Often we react to each other with too much emotion without taking time to cool down.
I’m definitely guilty of not implementing these communication strategies. Especially lately, I’ve been posting a lot of animal advocacy links on my Facebook page, expecting the images and text to change the minds of my friends on Facebook. In reality they’re probably all just blocking me. There must be a better way to start a dialogue about certain issues I care about, without pushing people away.
So finding Colleen’s work has been a real game changer. I love structure and strategies that I can see make sense and will improve my efficacy as an advocate for compassion and health.
Colleen has a podcast called “Food For Thought” that just turned 10 years old! She also has books, videos, and a great informative website. We can really learn a lot from Colleen and her experience making compassionate change.
There are two episodes of her podcast devoted to these 10 Strategies for Effective Communication. I highly recommend giving them a listen to dive deeper into each of these strategies!