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How to Communicate Better in Conflict


Article by Leigha Huggins

Photography by Leigha Huggins

I try so hard to never bring pain to anyone’s day—almost to a fault. Previously, I wouldn’t speak up or post on social media outlets because I knew my happiness could be someone’s sad. Or, I didn’t want to share my sad and possibly rain on someone’s happiness. 

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Since then, I have relied on my intentions over my assumptions. If I know my intentions are true, kind, and honest, then that is the only thing I have power over. One of the beautiful, but often challenging, ways of life is that we all have different perspectives, opinions, experiences, joy, and pain.  So, I try to let my heart listen when someone says, “Hey, that really hurt my feelings," or, "What did you mean by that?" or, "Maybe you could have used a better word choice.” The list is long, but the underlying message is the same. The message is that we don’t know what triggers others. So, regardless of what you meant, it’s ultimately what the recipient heard and related to their own personal journey. I always try be sensitive to that.

How can this be avoided in the future? If someone hurts your feelings, let's assume their intentions weren’t awful.  We can let them know it didn’t feel good in a gentle manner. On the flip side, we never want people to assume we were purposely being a jerk (unless of course, you were being a purposeful jerk, then you totally can feel bad about it). If someone is brave enough to tell you they were hurt by your word choice, actions, or assumptions, let’s listen and do what we can to change our words to match our intention. This may be challenging for us to learn, grow from, and have a little more insight and compassion for the beautiful beings around us, with whom we share this world. I even need to remind myself to practice this intention while at home with my loved ones. Because at the end of the day, I want to believe we all want happiness, health, and growth, and we want to change for the better good of this shared world. 

Thank you for those who speak up and for those who listen, because that is the best combination we can have in this complicated world.

March in your own parade, try to bring the umbrella when it rains, and if someone is brave enough to let you know you hurt them, let your heart listen. Regardless of what we may have said, let’s try our best to listen and grow. You can’t justify your word choice over someone’s pain or story. The person's reaction is real to them, and through their brave expression sharing what had hurt them, we owe it to them to listen. If we minimize how they feel and make it unsafe for them to share their feelings, then it’s hearts that can suffer at the cost of not listening.  

This was a blog inspired by my own Kickstarter campaign. I had written the following: 

"Whether children are conceived naturally, through IVF, surrogacy, fostering, adoption, step, or your own unique life story, Love Lottery is a book about the overwhelming love we have for our children."

After a sweet soul reached out to me about my word choice, they had made this suggestion:

“No matter how your Love lottery was brought into this world spontaneously, through IVF, surrogacy, fostering, adoption, step or even your own unique life story, Love Lottery is a book about the overwhelming love we have for our children.”

My chosen words “conceived naturally” hurt them and struck a chord. I would have never thought of this, had they not shared. I promptly changed my words, realizing I may have caused word cringe, and a feeling other than compassion or love.

That being said, I invite you to check out my Kickstarter! It’s a touching book, with beautiful intentions throughout. 

Love, hugs, and health.