Celebrating 10 Years

The Art of Safe Conversation

We live in violent times. In some ways, nowhere is that violence more deeply expressed than in the way we speak with one another. ViolentThe Art of Safe Conversation, West Hartford Holistic Counseling, West Hartford, CT language isn’t about screaming and yelling. It’s about using words in a harmful way. That can be as simple as off-handedly making a demeaning remark or being accusatory, rather than kind, with our words. The value of the art of safe conversations is dwindling.

The hallmark of enlightened society—whether we’re talking about Arcadia, Eden, Shambhala or Shangri-La—is non-harming. This isn’t just about doing physical harm to another person or being, it’s about not doing emotional and psychological harm. We do that kind of harm with our words and, if we want to level up the quality of our community to one that approaches enlightened, we have to pay attention to what we say and how we say it.

Empathetic Listening

One of the first ways we can do this is through empathy. Everyone has an opinion, right? Not only do we have an opinion, but, in general, we believe our opinion is the correct one. When we meet someone who holds a different opinion, it’s almost reflexive for us to defend our own position. That immediately creates conflict—no matter how subtle. By holding space for someone else’s opinion or position, we deflect that conflict and create an opportunity to open a dialogue, rather than starting an argument.

Seeing something from someone else’s point of view—or empathy—requires listening. Rather than imposing ourselves on a conversation, listening empathetically and being open to other ideas or positions allows us to enter into a safe conversation space. It also gives us the opportunity to frame our thoughts and cooperatively engage the person we’re speaking with, rather than just trying to steamroll them into seeing just how correct we are.


Empathy breeds compassion, which involves not only understanding someone else’s point of view, but understanding that point of view in its larger context. It moves us away from just a one-on-one interaction and into something that is more inclusive. By exercising compassion, we raise the level of discourse within the community as a whole, and that is where change—in this case a movement away from denigrating discourse—to one that is progressive and evolutionary.

Conversation is an art, and art creates; it doesn’t destroy. Bringing the elements of non-harming, empathetic listening and compassion into the mix raise that art—and us—to a higher level in terms of both social and emotional intelligence. It also gives us powerful tools for creating a safe space to engage in cooperative co-creation, rather than destructive conflict.

If you, or you and your partner, struggle with communication there are many ways counseling can help. Have a look at our Individual Counseling or our Couples Counseling services’ pages  or  contact us here for more information.

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