“Listening may be the most powerful statement a person can make.” ~ Dr. Mardy Grothe
What is conscious communication?
Conscious means aware. Conscious communication is communicating from an awareness of who you are and the impact you are having and want to have, as well as an awareness of what people really want, and how they can best be supported.
Conscious communication begins with being aware of whether we are speaking from our heart and intuition, or our fears and doubts. Are we speaking from our own past experiences and then projecting them onto the person in front of us, or are we really open to the uniqueness and possibilities that exist in every encounter?
When beginning the path of conscious communication a simple place to start from is assuming every person is naturally creative, resourceful and whole.
People are creative beings: Life is not a process of discovery, but rather creation. We are always creating our lives, and yet most people forget the extent to which this is true. We create through our thoughts, feelings, words and actions. Conscious communication begins with supporting others to become aware of how they are choosing to create their life in every situation, and how they can make new, empowering choices.
People are resourceful: People have all the answers within them. It is true that when we are young we need answers from our parents such as how to cross the street and tie our shoe laces. But as we get older what we need less of is people placing information in us, and more people empowering us to discover our own answers. Our strengths, values, purpose, beliefs, dreams and passions can only come from looking within. When we tap into our own resourcefulness we realize a bottomless pit of possibilities. We take greater ownership of ideas and insights, and become more motivated to act on them, because they are our own.
People are whole: We are not broken despite many people’s perspectives. We do not need to be fixed. Nothing can be added to us to make us more, whether it is a job, a relationship or more material goods. Nothing can complete us in any way. We are complete already. When people are seen as being whole, especially people who have always felt fragmented inside, it is truly liberating. It reminds people that in truth nothing is missing for them to feel enough and fulfilled within.
Imagine what would be different for you if you truly saw everyone, including yourself, this way. What would be different in how you communicate, in how you approach people, or how you see the world? You may notice yourself shifting from assuming you know what is best for people, to knowing only they know. You may become less interested in telling people what to do, and more curious about what interests them. And you may become less attached to your opinions and judgments and more open to the unchartered possibilities that lie within each person.
What are tools for conscious communication?
Curiosity: By asking simple, open-ended questions we open ourselves to people and have them open to us. The most powerful questions tend to be the simplest: What do you want? What is important to you? How could you achieve that goal? Questions that begin with “what” and “how” tend to be the most effective, versus Yes/No questions.
Listening: There are three levels of listening as created by The Coaches Training Institute:
- Level 1 – Internal Listening: This is when we listen to our own thoughts and ideas. This is important when we are planning our grocery list or paying our bills.
- Level 2 – Focused Listening: This is when we are completely over there with the other person, totally focused on their feelings, their words, their desires.
- Level 3 – Global Listening: This is when we tap into our intuition and have hunches that seem to come from no where but can be of great value if we share them.
People spend a great deal of time in Level 1 when they are communicating with others. They are listening, but more to what they want to say next, what they think is important, or what they think the other person should be doing. Consciously communicating to others means being fully present with them and what they need, what they want, what their fears and doubts are and what solutions they can discover. This can only happen by being in Level 2 and 3. This takes a conscious effort.
Self-management: To consciously communicate we need to be aware of where our own fears and doubts are clouding our perspectives, what we say and how we say it. Our past likes to creep into our conversations unconsciously. We project our past fears and doubts onto others by placing personal limitations on them in the form of indignations, confining opinions and judgments. Self-management begins with recognizing what is your “stuff” and what is theirs. Again, this takes conscious effort.
Silence: Have you even noticed that your thinking never seems to stop? It is from inner silence that we connect to our intuition and our greatest questions and insights arise. We become fully present and open to what others have to share. Through peace of mind we automatically offer more space for others to be present to their inner resources. We move from Level 1 to Levels 2 and 3 listening. Practicing some form of meditation will be useful in taming the mind and opening to the possibilities beyond it.
Ultimately, conscious communication is an expression of our own decision to cultivate self-awareness and conscious decision making in our daily lives. The more we become sensitive to our own feelings, thoughts and desires, the more space we will create for others to do the same.
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