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HELP - I don't know how to communicate respectfully

This was meant to be a video, but I realised just before filming (makeup and all) that I am just not emotionally ready to be on camera. Thankfully, there is another way to get my thoughts across and that’s in writing. Your eyes will need to dance across the page today, sorry!

I have had a terrible two weeks, and despite communication being my profession, I have struggled with every theory under the sun to communicate effectively and respectfully. When I say all tact was missing in my heart and mind, I mean every single last bit of it. In order to bring finality to that situation, I had to wrap it up with a respectfully written email, and a meeting, one that conveyed sincerity and courtesy, even though my mind was up in flames.

I do find myself waking up at odd hours of the night, eyes filled with tears, unable to comprehend the pain I have felt in the past few days. There are a few incidents in life that surpass this, very few.

The other day on Instagram, I asked what people are currently struggling to communicate respectfully, and the answers really broke me. Some of you are dealing with really terrible situations, and just your effort to try communicate it respectfully is highly commended. I will touch on some of the situations, and I hope this advice will help.

Q: How do I disclose to my family that I was sexually abused by someone familiar two years ago?

A: Family dynamics are so different. In some families there is no space to talk about things that are bothering you, things that are gnawing at your mind and heart. Disclosing sexual abuse is not only a scary thing but the shame that envelopes you when you need to disclose that, is second to no other feeling. Nothing can prepare you enough but in it all, you need to remember that you are the one who suffered something inhumane and evil. You are not at fault and you need to keep that top of mind no matter who you are disclosing this to.

If you feel that you may get bombarded with questions or probed to say more than you are prepared to, I suggest that you invite someone mature and wise, someone you trust. This third party can sit in the room and help moderate the discussion and help to calm the different temperaments in the room. The very nature of the abuse can evoke emotions in your family members that you cannot prepare for. Please allow for them to feel what they feel when they hear the news.

Q: How do I address frustrations that I have with my boss? I have dealt with some micro-aggression from my boss, and I am also struggling to deal with his/her management style and temperament.

A: Not all working relationships allow for the space to openly address certain frustrations and issues you may have with your boss. However, you cannot be productive in an environment where you are dealing with micro-aggression. This will hamper your work in more ways than one. I would advise that you raise these issues in a pre-planned meeting, not in a situation where your boss will be caught off guard.

Simply draft an email along with a calendar meeting request, stating your intention to discuss something of importance. If you feel comfortable to do so, you can go into detail by stating the following:

“Good day (use the greeting that you would usually use with your boss),

I would like to schedule a meeting with you to discuss something important. I feel that there are things that are affecting me and hampering me from optimal productivity in my working environment. I would like to address these issues with you, and share some possible solutions that I feel would help me going forward.

Please afford me the opportunity to discuss these matters with you, as a matter of urgency.

Kind regards,

The person that is sooooo sick of your micro aggression (KIDDING!!! Sign off with your name).

If you are in the process of leaving your company but are so weighed down by the bad treatment you have received and you don’t know how to make a peaceful exit, read the following closely:

Do not address the bad treatment if you feel that won’t yield positive results. If you do have an exit interview scheduled, then use that platform to address the issues you have, for the sake of the next person who will fill your position once you leave. Try your best not to leave kicking and screaming but rather in peace. Choose peace, not because you’re weak, but because you don’t want their last impression of you to be anything other than that of being a hard-working person.

Q: I have work confirmed for this month with someone I don’t want to work with. They are ghosting my comms. How do I pull out respectfully?

A: Send an email to them. Whether the company responds or not, the message has been sent. You don’t have to say “I DON’T WANT TO WORK WITH YOU”, but you can say that you are unable to work with the company at this moment in time, but you will consider doing so in future. If you are still not happy to work with them in future, you can let them know. It could be that their ethics are not in line with yours, or their way of working does not match your way. Whatever the case may be, take the time to explain it to them in a professional manner, without lying and without downplaying how you feel.

Q: I’m a massage therapist. My colleague felt it was okay to vape in my room. I didn’t address it then and I have been very upset with myself.

A: You still have the opportunity to address it with your colleague. Although the incident may have passed, you still have valid reasons to address it. Your colleague came into your space and did something he/she should have asked permission for. Boundaries are to be set by the person who owns that space, so you are in a very good and empowering position to set the boundaries that work best for you. What is normal to one person may not be normal to another, and so it is our responsibility to help someone unlearn something that makes us uncomfortable in our space.

“It’s a fair ask to unlearn some of the things that were normalised in our upbringing, with family members. Because while the intention is not to hurt – we are hurting people. So, people have got to learn to acknowledge that.” – Silindile Xhakaza


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