” … it’s just a clear example of people not listening. They are just not listening. I want to say, “Read my lips. This is how I feel, and it is my experience. And it is my own, and it’s not yours. And you are not everyone, and I am not you.” All of this stuff. I mean, really, it’s just called empathy!” ~ Emily Letts, Salon.com interview
Emily Letts made that comment in a Salon.com interview, following a media-storm and opposition-backlash stirred by a video she shared via Youtube in March 2014. Read the Salon.com article for more on that.
But what does that fevered backlash and hostile reaction tell us?
Any sort of fevered backlash rarely qualifies as skillful communication, nor does it often include anything remotely close to actual dialogue with genuine inquiry and actual listening.
Reactionary communication usually comes from the ol’ Lizard Brain, erupting from deep (if deeply conditioned) unconsciousness, and is more about defending a position than engaging in any sort of conversation.
Carl Jung seemed spot-on when he said that, “Fanaticism is shouted-down doubt.”
It’s shouted-down something, and is a common tactic for certain ‘difficult personality types’.
The shouting-down thing is also a common Bully Tactic — you’ll see more on those ‘toxic-normal’ tactics in the Empaths & Sensitives Series (which also offers some intel on dysfunctional communication patterns and tactics).
Letts is also correct when she connects true listening to empathy.
Empathetic listening is an important part of real dialogue of the sort that deepens understanding and builds bridges.
In radical contrast, reactionary shouted-down-doubt communication usually torches bridges, poisons relationships, and feels awful as well.
“Shouting-down” is intended to shut down communication, as is name-calling, baiting, insulting, and other anti-communication tactics.
There’s a lot of that in our culture, unfortunately. It’s ‘toxic-normal‘. Ick.
Like presence, though, inquiry and listening are worthy and possible skills to cultivate. The effects, even as we practice into greater awareness and mastery, are tangible and sometimes awe-inspiring.
Think of it … each of us probably can remember a time when we’ve been with someone who is intensely and compassionately present, who actually inquires — a more rare experience than it might seem — and actually listens.
I’ve written on this quite a bit in my long-time communication-counsel web site, Ivy Sea Online.
Check out this Ivy Sea Wake-Up Juice article — it links to several other inquiry and listening articles.
I realized when I’d done a fair amount of communication-related consulting — most of it specializing in high-volatility, high-conflict scenarios — that conscious and skillful, compassionate communication required change from within before it was possible to have skillfulness in our interactions with others.
I realized that in my own personal experience as well.
We’re much more able to communicate compassionately and skillfully — including with awareness when the bullies in our midst are doing their Bully Thing — when we’re centered, present, and practiced.
As within, so without.
You’ve probably noticed this, too, yes?
Big Love (and more skillful, gracious interactions!),
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