Even though we communicate all the time, for most of us, we have never received any training or education on how to communicate. We fumble our way through many messy conversations and relationships without the skills gleaned from being a student of conscious communication.
Being a student begins with knowing that we communicate not only with our words, but also with our movement and energy. A slight shift in our body language can convey a new message. And our energy, how we are being, can create subtle ripples of influence that are intuitively received by others, and that impact the tone of our words.
We become conscious communicators when we are aware of our words, body language and energy in every interaction. Aware means being present to, and curious about, how we express ourselves, and the impact we are having both on individuals and the whole (energetic space). We take greater responsibility in our relationships by owning our part in any conflict, and celebrating new milestones of joy and success.
Connection ~ The Heart of Conscious Communication
To practice conscious communication, our words, movements and energy must be in service of nurturing connection. Connection is the passageway between individuals through which the various forms of self-expression travel. The wider the passage is, the easier, more fluid and fulfilling the discourse. The more the passage constricts, the harder it is to reach the other person (they tune out or defend). Being a conscious communicator means being deliberate and intentional in how we express ourselves so that we nurture our connection and the lines of communication.
Here are four ways you can nurture and sustain your connection with others.
“May your heart be like a lake…with a calm still surface and great depths of kindness.” ~ Lao Tzu
1. Speak Calmly
When we raise our voice or react to what others are saying we initiate conflict. So much of conflict can be averted simply by staying calm. It is the safety created by our calmness that keeps the space of connection open. Taking deep breaths is a great way to stay grounded in your body and maintain a calm tone. Identifying the underlying need or deeper value trying to be expressed by the other will also help you to stay calm. In other words, looking for the positive and seeing through the eyes of empathy.
2. Speak Slowly
Speaking fast is often a sign of being ungrounded, nervous and, as a whole, disconnected. When someone speaks fast it often feels like they are talking right through us. By pacing ourselves we create room between our words so that each is more easily received. It’s in the space between that we not only hears the other’s words, but connect to the human being behind the words.
3. Use Brevity
Speaking has more impact when it is short and to the point. The longer our sentences are, and the more we speak at one particular time, the less engaged the other will be. They will begin to drift away. Be conscious of your balance of dialogue – meaning, be aware that you are listening as much as you are speaking. When this balance gets tilted too much to one side, you will lose your connection and desired impact.
Conscious communication is not just about the art of sharing, but the art of receiving as well. It is very tempting to want to continuously fill in space, especially when there is a pause after you finish speaking. Let this pause settle in. Allow others a moment to digest what you have said and compose their thoughts. By speaking calmly, slowly and with brevity you will find it much easier to hold the empty space that lies between your words and theirs.
While these four keys are simple, they may not be easy to practice at first. We have a lifetime of habitual patterns to overcome. To make things easier, the next time you are about to enter a conversation choose one key to practice. Take a moment to imagine what it would look like for you to play with this key in your discourse. Another thing that may help is to share this article with the important people in your life. Each person can talk about what keys they’d like to play with more, what it would look like to incorporate them in the communication, and how the keys can serve the relationship.
Know that it will take time and patience, but soon you will find that these simple keys have a powerful influence in shifting the dynamics of your relationship towards greater positivity and success.
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Check out Vince’s book: Let the Fire Burn ~ Nurturing the Creative Spirit of Children, A Children’s Book for Adults