Ep. 73: “You ALWAYS do that!”
Cynthia Kane, author of How to Communicate Like a Buddhist and Talk to Yourself Like a Buddhist, sat down with me to discuss the communication tactics she has learned during her journey as a Bodhisattva. Her techniques are perfect for getting out of escalating arguments and questionable conversations!
Full Show Notes
Proper communication is tough enough between adults, but teenagers are a whole different game! The heightened sensitivity and emotions in teenagers means parents are more likely to find themselves in unwanted situations when talking with their teens.
Communicating with teenagers in a healthy and helpful way is like walking a tightrope—it’s hard to find the right balance between getting your point across without devolving into an argument. One wrong word might trigger a fiery flare up! Or, worse, the silent treatment. Where do we even begin in turning things around?
This week I spoke with communication guru Cynthia Kane, author of How to Communicate Like a Buddhist and Talk to Yourself Like a Buddhist. (Her third book in the series is due out this spring.) Cynthia’s search for a Bodhisattva—a person dedicated to helping others ease their suffering—for her own life, led her on a journey to become one herself. Her medium? Communication.
By using the Buddhist principle of Right Speech, Kane enlightens others on how to speak to themselves and others in positive, reforming ways. It’s all about being honest, taking time to recognize and address one’s own feelings, and finding ways to voice one’s needs and opinions in helpful ways. Kane suggests that before parents can effectively build a solid foundation of communication with their teenagers, they must first learn to listen to themselves.
Parents who are unsure about their own decisions, stressed about their reputations, and caught up in past events have a much harder time listening and responding to their teen’s wants and needs.
In practice, Kane’s insights help people more truthfully focus on their individual needs and build avenues of communication. These are crucial areas for parents to focus on if they want to improve and understand the relationship they have with their teen. Empathy and honesty are amazing tools for building trust between parents and teenagers, but, just like many other communication, they need to be learned and practiced. It all begins with an acute awareness of one’s own self-talk, and Kane offers a unique process to communicate your needs and wants more openly.
In addition to Kane’s special approach to communication, listeners will discover:
- The importance of listening first and foremost to yourself
- How to combat the “shoulds”
- Shutting down toxic teenage gossip
- Why silence is a key part of effective communication
It was such a treat to learn so much from Cynthia, and I know I’ll be using her strategies in my own life going forward. Parents have so much to gain from this episode, and I’m excited to share all Cynthia’s knowledge with you!
The 25-minute public version is free to listen to, and the 42-minute extended version, packed with extra goodies, is reserved for site members. Log in or start a free trial to access everything our site has to offer!
Word-for-word examples of WHAT to say to your teen
1. Stop a gossipy teen with:
“I hear what you’re saying. I understand you must feel [this way]. And I’m not really interested in hearing these types of things about your friends; I don’t think it’s helpful. I’m happy to hear about how things are going, but when it’s material that’s just hurtful.”
2. When you find your mind wandering:
3. Words to say to get present:
4. How to apologize after losing your cool:
5. When your teen bails on you to go meet up with friends:
Step-by-step guides for applying the ideas from this interview
1. Write Down Your Shoulds:
We can all get caught up in things we ‘should’ be doing. We ‘should’ always be early, we ‘should’ never yell, we ‘should’ eat healthy 100% of the time. One of the exercises Cynthia explicitly mentioned is to compile a list of your ‘shoulds.’ On a piece of paper or in digital note, jot down 15 of your most common ‘shoulds.’ Looking at the list, reflect on how it might feel to replace the word ‘should’ with ‘could’ for each instance. (You may have to change the syntax of the sentence for some!)
Notice how different each one reads now. Instead of feeling guilty, you may see that these are now framed as choices that you might make, rather than things you ‘must’ or ‘have to’ do. Next time you hear yourself using ‘should’ replace it with a could. Try this practice for one week and then journal on if you felt any differences at the end of the week.
2. Enlist Your Teen in Keeping You Present:
About Cynthia Kane
Cynthia Kane is the bestselling author of How to Communicate Like a Buddhist and Talk to Yourself Like a Buddhist. She is the founder of the Intentional Communication Institute, helping thousands of people change their way of communicating through her online courses, workshops, and certification program. A certified meditation and mindfulness instructor, Cynthia has dedicated herself to helping men and women change their communication routines so they feel more in control and understood. Her work has appeared in numerous publications, including the Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, Yoga Journal, Self Magazine, and Woman’s Day Magazine. Her next book, How to Meditate Like a Buddhist, is due out at the end of April.
She lives in Washington, DC with her husband, Brian, and son.