What follows is a summary of an excellent book whose principles I recommend heartily (pun intended!).
Five Principles of Communicating from the Heart
1 ) Hear and understand me:
Understanding others is a prerequisite for being understood ourselves. It takes a great deal of effort to genuinely listen on a consistent basis, and it is hard to really listen while simultaneously preparing a mental response.
2) Even if you disagree, please don’t make me wrong:
Avoid judging! Condemning is the surest way to make sure your message falls on deaf ears. Speak in terms of your own feelings. Begin sentences with ‘I’ and then complete them by describing how you currently feel. The other person can then either accept or reject what is being communicated without feeling that he or she is being judged. In most situations, statements about yourself do not tend to foster defensiveness.
3) Acknowledge the greatness within me:
We crave praise! We deeply appreciate being noticed and having our efforts acknowledged. Even if we do not approve of the behavior, we can look for the potential that lies in another person. Be a good finder. Look for the best in everyone and every situation.
4) Remember to look for my loving intentions:
Unless negatively influenced by their environment, people will tend to do their best, and most intentions start out being honorable. In attempting to bring about constructive change, it is always desirable to understand the feelings and attitudes that underlie specific behaviors. Always be willing to give the benefit of the doubt.
5) Tell me the truth with compassion:
Confrontation is a necessary part of life and should never be needlessly delayed or avoided. It should, however, be facilitated with genuine concern for the individual. Three steps: 1) Speak directly to the person who is in need of being confronted rather than talking about him or her to others. 2) Respectfully address him and listen empathetically to his side of the story. 3) Follow up to determine if the target behavior actually changes.