“I’m new here”
These words illicit an enormous amount of fear and vulnerability for me. As a young child we moved often; as a result, walking through new experiences today takes effort, courage and faith. Let me tell you a quick story giving an example that I am not alone in what I need in these situations!
Recently Michael and I shared the day with a wonderful group at our Matching Pictures Workshop. During one of the communication exercises a guest shared her experience attending a new yoga studio. On her arrival she announced to the desk staff, “I’m new here.” The desk staff smiled and continued on with her duties. She thought she shared that she was needing information, connection, and comfort, yet her perception was the receptionist was not very helpful. The check-in process involved one of the new-fangled touch pads and there weren’t any directional signs for changing rooms or lockers. She announced again, “I have never been here before, how do I sign in?” Rather than explain how to sign in the receptionist walked to the front of the counter and quickly completed the sign in for her. Our friend expressed to us her feeling of embarrassment at this point in the interaction. She then asked the woman where she should put her stuff during class. The desk staffer waved her arm in the direction of the wall of cubbies. So while this is an extreme example of “losing strategies” it is one worth sharing. It is indicative of the daily conversations we have, in our heads and out loud with others that do not meet our needs.
The point of the exercise at our workshop was to show that we sometimes engage in “losing strategies” when we communicate, we make statements rather than asking for what we need. Our guest was able to relate how she did not get her needs met because she did not make a specific request. Part of Compassionate Communication is learning to identify what we are feeling and needing and making an appropriate request in order to get our needs met.
So here is the cool part. For those not aware I am a yoga teacher as well. I would like to think I am a gracious and attentive teacher and host, especially in the yoga studio. And as I shared above, when it comes to new experiences I am very sensitive and empathetic to people’s vulnerability in trying things for the first time. The next morning I was at the Connecticut Yoga Center preparing to teach my Sunday morning class and 3 new people arrived! It was one of the students very first yoga class ever! The young woman walked up to the counter and said “I have never been here before.” My heart smiled! The example from our guest the day before was so fresh in my mind that I knew exactly what this new yoga student needed! She was making a statement rather than asking for what she needed- information, connection and comfort but because of my own practice with Compassionate Communication I was able to identify that. I went around to the front of the counter and with a smile I explained to her how to sign in, then I took her by the arm, led her to the studio, showed her where everything was, and helped her set up her mat. The look of relief and peace on her face indicated to me that her needs were met.
Helping the new woman sign in and feel comfortable at the yoga studio was the most important yoga I could have practiced that morning; connecting with another human being through empathy. Yoga means union, we are one, we feel the same feelings, we experience the same fears and joys. Compassionate Communication has taught me to express my needs appropriately so that I have the best opportunity in getting my needs met. It also teaches me to listen with empathy for the needs of others so that I may be of service in times of need.