Life is about relationships: with others, yourself, your body, nature, the world. The quality of your communication is reflected in these relationships and is equal to the quality of your emotional well-being. The more you are aware of and implement the 2 critical steps in conscious communication, the flow of emotional well-being is heightened, happiness is accessible and clarity of mind to make great decisions becomes available.
The intention of conscious communication is to develop a quality of connection that allows us to appreciate each other’s needs, and to explore how to meet those needs at less emotional cost. We hold this intention to connect and value each other—even when we are angry or “don’t feel like connecting”—by remembering that connection has value. If we are invested only in getting certain results, and have no intention to connect human to human, then no matter how nicely we speak or how much we use our great communication training, we will fail to genuinely inspire people to stay open long enough to see another point of view.
The Inner Work - Stop the Inner Fight
Here’s an example: John wants to be heard and recognized for the work he is capable of doing. In recalling a recent meeting he says the following:
- “I am a leader without authority and I need to influence other senior leaders. But it’s hard and exhausting. They don’t show up to calls/meetings. I always seem to be ‘proving’ why this work is relevant.”
- “He is a bully…always one-upping and I can’t stand it. We haven’t moved on our goals and I need them to do what they said they would do!”
After reading the example above, can you help John to see if he genuinely is interested in this intention or he is stuck in the blame game? What would you say to John to help him with the following:
- Clarify his intention (of meeting with this person)
- State his intention without any language that implies wrongness, criticism, comparing, labeling, blame, shame, guilt
- Genuinely connect with this intention
2. Identify Your Inner Critic
Deepen your awareness and strip the mind of thoughts and beliefs that are keeping you stuck. The inner critic is enticed by fear. John’s fear of not being heard and valued is causing him to react defensively. To quiet the inner critic who feeds this fear and disconnects John from the intention to create a conversation, John must give what he is seeking, that is to hear others and to value their needs.
You may begin to notice repetitive thoughts and beliefs that you haven’t seen before. This is the transformative power of conscious communication. As you continue the process, notice what happens to the defensive, destructive layers of your thoughts.
The Practice - Name the Enemies
Help John drop the unconscious notion that there is a fight to be won by helping him describe the ‘enemy images’ he is creating that stop him from hearing and valuing those he is in disagreement with. When we say someone is a ‘bully,’ that is an enemy image. Any language that turns people into ‘things’ directly affects how we interact with them.
To help John move to his intention, ask John to describe WHAT about this situation is causing him to react. In doing so, use conscious communication to:
- Listen to his inner critic for language that creates shame, blame, guilt, fear, doubt or worry
- Name the labels or the criticisms he has given to people with whom he disagrees
- Name the labels he has given to difficult situations