I love this part of the manifesto. There’s something so special in moments when communication is so challenging and (somehow) everyone involved comes out feeling understood and more importantly, heard. Effective communication is a complex business. If you go into it expecting things to flow easily and without a lot of effort, you’re just kidding yourself. Expect problems and misunderstandings. Even the best communicators occasionally fail to understand others, or they fall short of making themselves understood. We’re all human. We all feel different things and (like yoga) we have all been through different things that create tension and different perspective. We often follow our hearts or our minds and sometimes (if we’re lucky) both.
Consider that you’ll need a lot of patience. Effective communication takes time. Impatience can doom the goal of genuine understanding. Being in a hurry works against the commitment to care that is essential to all effective communication. How can you genuinely care for someone while you’re tapping your feet, checking your phone, looking around and reaching for the door? Be careful, make eye contact. Recognize that effective communication deserves patience and a deliberate attempt to understand not only the words being said but also the emotions behind the words. Slow down until you get that. Set yourself up to be present by making sure you have enough time to be there. Remember that the tools required to be effective vary from person to person. We get the best use out of them by adapting them for our own style and personality—and that requires trial and error. I still remember the first piece of feedback I ever received from my Assistant-Manager and how it stuck around in my chest for the rest of the day. You know what I mean, that feeling when you lose your wallet or someone yells at you. It wasn’t until a month or so later that I really understand the power of giving and receiving feedback and learning about where it came from (it’s not secret, it totally comes from the heart and usually from someone who really cares about you).
So, to actually experience challenging communication I decided to sit down with my mother yesterday (for those of you that have followed along she and my father are here visiting from Ontario) and we had a (much-needed) conversation. I’d had feelings sitting inside me for a long time and (for no good reason) had kept them there for years, letting them chip away and parts of my life. This conversation was a lot different then what we had experienced in the past. I felt confident for the first time. I’m not sure if it was the tools lululemon has given me or my ah-ha moment in Landmark, but it all flowed out of me. Exactly what I wanted to say, directly from my heart. I also made sure that I didn’t set myself up with any expectations. To be honest, I’m not sure if she completely agreed with what I had to say, the conversation was full of hard subjects and re-hatching events that damaged my heart (and hers) a little. But I said it with clarity and felt heard which (to me) was enough. I also hear heard her. And realized what was so clear to me wasn’t for her. In the end we both heard each other, we saw and understood where we were both coming from which gave us both a peace that was long overdue.
The next time you find yourself in front of another person, challenge yourself to hear what that person is all about. Challenge yourself to make communication less about you and more about them. That way, it won’t be so complicated
Up Next…Listen, listen, listen, and then ask strategic questions…A night that will change my life with Susan Conrad.
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