Life Alienating Communication

The 4 ‘D’s and 1 ‘C’ of Disconnection

There are 4 types of mindset and communication approaches that undermine the ability to engage our compassion – in fact they

block that compassion.


They are:

  • Diagnosis, Moral judgement, analysis, criticism and comparison.

Such positions imply wrongness or badness on the behalf of others who don’t act in harmony with our own values, in contrast with acceptance and inclusion of those who do.   The former are reflected in language that attributes blame, is insulting or a put-down, labels others, makes comparisons of better or worse than, and diagnoses something as being wrong, such as:

  • You are too selfish
  • She’s just lazy
  • They’re prejudiced against me/us

Any time there is ’othering’ it creates a separation as we are concerned about WHO is WHAT, in comparison to ourself or our norms.

Such language even if we don’t speak it out loud, is rich with words that classify and dichotomize others and their actions.  We preoccupy ourselves with classifying whose good, bad, normal, abnormal, responsible, irresponsible, smart, dumb etc.  This can also be applied to the self – as we compare our own sense of self with others and beat ourselves up for being as clever, funny or whatever.

This is all rather than seeking to explore what others (and ourselves) might need that we are not getting.  For example.  If in an intimate relationship my partner wants more affection than I’m giving – we label them ‘needy and dependent’; whilst on the other hand if I want more affection than I’m getting – I judge them as being ‘cold and insensitive’.  Likewise when another is more concerned about detail – we think of them as ‘picky and tedious’.  However if I am more concerned than they then in our eyes they become ‘sloppy and disorganized’.


The result is that this kind of expression of our own values and needs, either increases defensiveness and resistance, or if others collude with our perspective it will be likely out of fear, guilt or shame.  And sooner or later this will result in diminished goodwill on behalf of those who comply out of a sense of internal or external coercion.

The biggest issue is that such classification and judgment has been shown to promote violence.  There are high correlations between such a stance and the incident of verbal, emotional, physiological or physical violence, whether this be between family members, tribes, cultures, or nations.  Yet behind all judgments and labels lurks fear.


  • Denial of Responsibility

Life-alienating communication clouds the reality that we are each accountable for our own thoughts, feelings and actions.  When we use a common expression such as “I have to do ……(such and such) …. whether I want to or not!” it demonstrates how personal responsibility for our actions gets obscured.  Other examples of phrases that denote a denial of responsibility are terms like:

  • …….. makes ‘one’ feel
  • You make me feel

We deny responsibility when we attribute our actions to a cause outside of ourself, which imply an absence of choice.  There is in fact always a choice.

Other examples of language that allows us to avoid responsibility are :

  • “I only cleaned my room because I had to” (Vague, impersonal forces)
  • “I drink because I am an alcoholic” (A condition, diagnosis, personal or psychological history)
  • “I hit my child because he ran into the street” (The actions of others)
  • “I lied to the client because my boss told me to” (The dictates of authority)
  • “I started smoking because all my friends were” (Peer/group pressure to fit in)
  • “I have to suspend you for this behaviour because it’s school policy” (Institutional rules and regulations)
  • “I hate this work, but I have to stick at it because I am a father and have to support my family” (Gender, social or age roles)
  • “I was overcome by the urge to finish all the lasagna’ in the fridge” (Uncontrollable impulses)


Communicating our desires or needs as a demand is another form of language that blocks compassion.  A demand implicitly or explicitly threatens the listener/s with blame or punishment if they fail to comply.  This is a very common form of communication in cultures where those in authority hold ‘power over’.

It is common in families as parents and carers seek to mold the behaviour of children to their will. However, there is an ultimate lesson for those in power who believe because they are a parent, teacher, manager, president or anyone in a position of authority, that their job is to force people to change to their way and make others behave, is that in the long run the consequences will not yield the results they are seeking.  Ultimately people will resist, fight back or check out.


Deserve Orientation

Life-alienating communication is also associated with the concept that certain actions merit reward and others punishment.  This is relevant where there is an assumption that people who behave in certain ways are ‘bad’ and deserve punishment to make them repent and change their behaviour, as opposed to changing because the change is beneficial to themselves.



Making comparisons with others holds an insidious power over us, making us miserable.  Such comparisons create separation through judging ‘difference’ and yet we are all unique expressions of humanity.  Such thinking blocks compassion for self and for others.  There will always be others who are more of less beautiful than ourselves, more or less wealthy that ourselves – in fact on any scale of any attribute there will be those who are higher and those lower.



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