Have you something to communicate? Can’t say it? Are the words lodged firmly, stubbornly in your throat? Or, on the flip side, not being able to hold back, you blurt ‘it’ out? We’ve all ben in situations when communications have turned a bit sour.
What to Say – When & To Whom
From my perspective, our society is in the midst of a communication tug of war. How do we say what we want to say to get our point across without offending anyone? Should we say anything at all? Believe it or not, we can. Speak your truth, be heard, offend no one, and care enough about yourself and others is indeed possible. We can engage in open conversations, discussions, with mutual respect. We must learn how!
How We Learned to Communicate
- Perhaps it began in childhood when the words “only speak when spoken to” were taught to us. Children often do express their truths – from their vantage point – unfiltered from societal norms – usually spot on. Coached by well-meaning adults, or taught in a more aggressive way, to “keep our peace”, the habit of holding our tongues may have been born.
- Do you measure your thoughts, before you speak? Do you lose your ability to be expressive because of it?
- Sometimes do your communication techniques, no matter how hard you try, seem to fail you?
- Reactions from others – do they move you into doubting your own instincts or motivators?
Wherever you on on the scale it’s all learned behaviour emerged. This is good news. You can make a decision now to shift old ingrained patterns and put new ones into practice. Lets take a look at some of the personality of failed communication…
Fear of Reprisal from Others
- Experiencing anger or reprisal from others in a conversation is rarely a pleasant experience. There are very few of us who seek confrontation. However, not speaking out about how we feel on certain subjects can lead to breakdown in communications. It is in these situations that we challenge our willingness to communicate courageously. Susan Scott speaks about 7 Principles of Fierce Conversations in her book “Fierce Conversations“.
- Fear has a way of keeping us from dipping our toe in that particular communication pool again. Yet re-stepping in that pool with a new understanding and better skills, is the very thing that gives us an opportunity to deliver a message more effectively. This takes practice.
- The potential of an uncomfortable verbal confrontation vs a warm and engaging conversation can stop us from communicating our truth. We need to find a way. I highly recommend you read Susan Scott’s book.
- Many of us do not start our day looking for feelings to hurt. If given a choice, we would prefer to have good communication with others. There are occasions where communication continues to cause ruffled feathers. Everyone concerned may be left holding resentments.
- Once words have escaped our lips, it is often very difficult to mend hurt feelings.
- Before we even begin to speak, a best practice would be to give our thoughts and feelings a moment … remember to be ourselves … and actually be present – without need to be right. Keeping an open mind will save a lot of hurt feelings.
- Not all of us believe in the same ideals, and certainly our perspectives may differ. The question of allowing for differences is at the heart of the matter in most things. To speak out with our different perspectives showing is where vulnerability lies. It is in this exact place where sensitivity lies as well. There is risk involved.
- Differences and Diversity are strengths. Looking at a situation from different perspectives is strength. Holding off on judgment is a key to successful communication. Opening our minds to change is valuable.
Embracing these challenges helps us release old communication habits, and puts us in a much better position to finding solutions.
I believe there is a more than a possibility of speaking our truth, being heard, offending no one, caring enough about each other to engage in open conversation, discussion, learning, and mutual respect. We can do it. It only takes practice, and courage.
Things to practice…
- Awareness – An unhealthy learned behaviour can be unlearned and replaced with something much better. Often we motor through life unaware of how our communication style affects others. Choosing awareness of our communication patterns is a huge step toward successful outcomes. Change occurs in choice.
- Fear – A Tool for Change – Fear is a response to physical and/or emotional danger. Feeling and facing our fears allows us to utilize fear to our advantage. In her book, “Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway”, Susan Jeffers, utilizes techniques and concepts to help reduce the affects of fear. Redirecting our ‘fear thoughts’ to ‘focusing on what it is you want’ thoughts, helps us look for the lessons and the opportunities in the experience. Listen with your heart.
- Think Before Speaking – Even good intention does not always a good outcome make. How you say something is often better than what you say. How you listen is probably the most important aspect in communication. Understanding ‘the what’, ‘the how’, and ‘the why’ before delivery gives you a much better chance of experiencing a positive outcome, because you’ll have time to listen.
- Allow Vulnerability – You are likely not the only one who is experiencing vulnerability in communication. If you are defending your side, then you have lost the ability to hear, engage, and learn from another’s point of view. Trust is the gift in vulnerability. Learn to trust yourself.
“Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; Courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen”. SIR WINSTON CHURCHILL
With Gratitude & Encouragement … Lois Boughton