In a world of perpetual noise, it sometimes feels as if the only way we’ll be heard is by being louder. In this environment, what place is there for a whisper?
Try it for yourself and find out. Try it with a loved one, with your child, especially when you are imparting sensitive information that is sure to trigger them. Try it with someone on the opposite side of the political spectrum.
They will lean in to hear you. They will be more open to your words because a whisper is much less threatening. Because they will not have the excuse to ignore your words by focusing on your aggressive directness that you justify because you are right and they are wrong.
One thing: this whisper must come from a centered place; steeped in compassion and non-judgment, understanding that the recipient’s position is always genuine, despite what we may believe. From this gentle place, it is nothing short of amazing the inroads that can be made, even with the most resistant people.
Try it out with someone you always butt heads with. Pretend it’s a game. Refuse to play your usual part in the dysfunctional relationship by tapping into your empathy. This will prepare you for the inevitable unconscious attack that will come your way. When that happens, because you have anticipated this, you are prepared to not be triggered.
Instead of automatically returning matching fire, choose to lower your voice and be easy. It may take several occasions for this approach to shift a pattern. But often a small, yet profound, shift happens right away because every fibre of the other person is expecting to receive back what they are dishing out. What happens when they get something else? Something more kind, more gentle, more respectful, more caring?
Try it and find out. At the very least, you will feel better about your own behaviour. It’s personally healing to reduce our contribution to conflict and trauma. Beyond that, you might be amazed when you witness the other person, whose expectations have been turned on their heads, wondering what is going on. Suddenly, their defenses are lowered just a little.
Here lies the opportunity for connection. In this moment, the power of a compassionate whisper will become perfectly evident.