Sharing versus Telling ~ Communication for Staying Centered in the Self

Sharing versus Telling ~ Communication for Staying Centered in the Self

It is natural for us to tell people what to do. It is part of the human condition to believe we know what is best for others. This may be true when we are with young children and, for example, we see a child approaching a moving car. In that moment it is probably wise to tell the child to stand back. But as children grow older, we know less and less what is best for them. We can assume, but chances are our ideas for others are simply that – our own ideas, not theirs.

We can only speak on behalf ourselves, not on behalf of others. When we speak on behalf of ourselves we share instead of tell. We share from our own experience and give people the opportunity to take what they wish from what is being offered. When you share some of your potato chips you simply offer the bag to another person and let them choose how to respond. You don’t put it in their face or dump the bag on their head. You gently offer some of what you have with lots of room for them to respond how they wish. Sharing your self is no different.

Sharing uses language that is rooted in:

  • The Self – “I” “Me” “My”
  • Personal experience
  • Freedom of choice
  • Non-attachment to thoughts, ideas and perspectives
  • The present moment

You share your Self

Telling often uses language that is focused on:

  • The other – “You” “Your”
  • Assumptions
  • Shame
  • Judgment
  • Attachment to thoughts, ideas and perspectives
  • Past and future

You tell others

Here are some examples of telling and sharing. While reading, feel the energetic difference between them:

Telling

  • Why don’t you…
  • You should…
  • You shouldn’t…
  • You have to…
  • Don’t you think that…
  • You got to…
  • You seem to always…
  • You keep…
  • Why do you always…

Sharing

  • What works for me is…
  • My experience is…
  • I personally wouldn’t…
  • I would…
  • What comes up for me is…
  • I’m wondering if this would work for you…
  • I’m feeling that…
  • I suggest…
  • My concern is…
  • I’m noticing…
  • What feels like truth to me is…
  • My sense is…

By speaking on behalf of our Self and using “I” “Me” and “My” language we experience the following benefits:

  • We stay grounded and centred more in our Self
  • We express our thoughts and feelings more often and easily
  • We focus on what we can control – our personal experience, versus their personal experience
  • We give clearer instructions
  • We find it easier to say No
  • We educate people more about ourselves including our boundaries, personal desires and values
  • People receive and therefore know us better
  • We know ourselves better

What helps is starting with the assumption that people are naturally creative, resourceful and whole. They are capable of finding their own answers and making their own choices. Trusting this, we no longer have to impose others with our perspectives, but rather simply share them, knowing they will take what they want to take and leave the rest behind.

In truth, this is all we can do anyway. Whether we share or tell we are always speaking from our own experience, so we might as well use language that reflects it. In doing so, we create greater safety, connection and openness in our relationships.

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Related Reading:
The Courage to Speak Your Truth ~ 5 Steps to Reclaiming Your Voice
The Feelings Behind Your Need
15 Ways to Express Needs & Desires

Related Training:
Conscious Communication ~ Creative, Compassionate & Productive Communication
Community Engagement ~ Building Creative & Collaborative Relationships

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